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Which Is Better?

March 13, 2014 - Carrie Olson
On Tuesday after work, I decided that it was too nice to trudge straight back across the Hudson to my cave-like apartment. My On Demand service would just have to save all my favorite TV shows for later. It was almost 60 degrees and light out (still light out, oh, I knew I liked you Daylight Savings!) So I walked. And walked. For two hours. Besides being excellent exercise (I just don't recommend that activity to be performed in leather boots), it really gave me a chance to reflect on living here for the past year and a half.

People always ask me, so when are you guys moving back? Or, what do you miss from home? And, what's the worse thing about being in NYC? When I first came here, any of those questions had a quick, snappy answer. I'm moving back ASAP. I miss people with manners and open spaces. The worst? The smell of urine everywhere and feeling scared all the time.

Oh, I could get on a roll, too. Once I got going on all the things I hated about the city and surrounding area, I couldn't stop. It was like being a sixth-grade girl again, extolling all of the negative stuff that I hated about the popular girl in my class. Some of it wasn't entirely true, but I believed in it, so it must.

Friends and people that I knew from the area all gave me the same advice: Give it two years. Two years? Two years?!? They've got to be kidding me. After a few weeks of living over here, I was absolutely giddy that I had to take my car back and sell it in Iowa. An extra week at home, I thought, absolutely heavenly. When you live in an unknown place, far from family and friends, and have never really done that before (besides a few months stint at what was essentially summer camp for adults), it's so tough. Couple that with slumping finances, and you've got yourself a full-fledged "I HATE NYC" scenario!

But the advice was absolutely true. This place, being here — it has definitely grown on me. I'm sure it's true of a lot of places. I haven't been back to Iowa in three months and I am not sure when the next we will be able to get back, but it doesn't seem that long ago. While I still miss seeing my family in person, we have utilized Skype, email and phone calls to the point that it doesn't feel like much time has passed by.

Not only that, but I must say, I really do like it here. I love having public transportation within walking distance. That I can go to Grand Central or Penn and take a train out to the countryside. I love walking and using my legs to go on errands (especially in nice weather). I love the choices - being able to choose from book stores, restaurants, concerts, reading events, etc. If I want to go home and veg out, that's cool — but there is always something exciting or fun to do within a few miles radius. And I have to say, I love the opportunities, even if the competition is absolutely fierce.

Manners and other pleasantries - well, sometimes people surprise you. I had a person chase me a half block in Lower Manhattan to make sure that the glove I dropped was returned. People open doors, and once and awhile, I hear the words "excuse me". Sure, there are rude people everywhere (but there is also just a ton of people here, in general). I've stopped paying so much attention to situations that really don't matter or words that don't matter, and I've developed a much, much thicker skin.

Another big problem that I had in the past was that I only knew a handful of people, but now it's a bit different. While I have friend groups, I'm also not afraid of hanging out with my bad self alone anymore. Sometimes I savor attending a movie matinee on my own or walking in the East Village, scavenging for new thrift stores.

Sure, I miss running in the woods in Central Iowa, curling up with a good book at the Kendall Young Library, cheaper costs, and courteous Midwestern folks - and at some point, maybe in the near future or perhaps later on, I will get to experience those things on a daily basis again.

So, what's better - Midwest living or being a city slicker? I can't say. They are both just so different. Right now, I'm just soaking up my environment and enjoying being here.


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