Sunday, May 31, 2009

Coming to the City

Back in April, New York ran a set of vignettes on people's first move to New York, which are partially about the City, and the particular magic of any given decade there, but also largely about the surprise that somehow, one can move to a city with little or nothing and somehow thrive.

I moved to New York with three friends from summer camp. Two of us were going to NYU, and the other two were in that self-loathing, debaucherous postcollege year of self-destruction. We crammed into what probably should have been a two-bedroom on Bleecker and Macdougal and sectioned things off into a four-bedroom by putting up a lot of curtains.


The mice kind of became a part of the house. We weren’t feeding them or anything, but we definitely got less skittish around them. It’s interesting how much you can adapt to when you don’t have the means to fix it. We did get the sticky traps once. But when one got stuck, we were all too scared to get it and throw it out or kill it. Literally, we were four college-age dudes curled up on the couch listening to it scream for three days. We took turns going back and peeking at it and yelling, “Oh God, it’s there! It’s dying! It’s dying! What do we do?” But you can’t get it off; if you pull it, you rips the limbs off. The humane thing to do would have been to smash it with a hammer, but no one had the stomach to do that, so it was pretty awful.
That's the exact definition of this period: the process of growing up to the point where you can fix a leaky faucet or deal with a mouse without particularly getting wrapped up in it. The particulars of life in a strange city become the background of life in general. You go from being a tourist to knowing where the all night supermarket is.

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