When you move to a city, you become meaner.
You are harder. Less optimistic. Tough. Do not make eye contact with anybody in the subway. Read the book you’re kind of halfway through, listen to the terrible music you hope you’re not playing loud enough to hear. Pretend you’re the kind of person whose feet doesn’t move when the train makes a turn. Don’t look up, just push and shove and move. In the city, you are the most important person you know. Dislike and accept that. Walk that way, walk so fast and eye roll when somebody slow is walking up the stairs as you are trying to switch trains. People will ask you for money on trains, drunk people will piss on themselves, babies will cry and you just have to pretend they are not there. It’s a subway. You don’t know anybody.
Strut down the street briskly when you are only getting a bagel, a slice of pizza, or a gin drink that will take the edge off of being alone all the time.
Dress like an idiot. When you end up in the suburbs or you end up home you think ‘why the fuck am I wearing so much black and where did these accessories come from?’ Take a long shower, eat your first big meal without alcohol in years, and try not to brush anything and everything off your shoulder. Find yourself afraid of trees.
Still, in a city filled with so many people, you must not acknowledge them. This becomes somewhat difficult because there are so many interesting and attractive things, most of them wearing plaid or shorts. Grumble while eating a falafel or some kind of street cart food. When somebody talks to you at a bar, coyly laugh when they are a part of the city you just don’t venture to. Know a lot of people, just barely.
Be afraid of ‘nice guys’ because you are no longer nice. Be afraid of things that last longer than two months. Get nervous whenever you enter some part of the town that ‘that guy you hung out with’ lives. The city is big, but it is small. Never see anybody again, except some kid you went to high school with. They have a new haircut and you kind of brag about your life because you are nervous. Send e-mails to people telling you how excited you are to be in the city. Be terrified of your bank account as you furiously eat money with no utensils. Bury your head in your hands when nobody is looking. Think about how stupid you were in college, abandon those dreams and make new ones. Find fog really romantic. Find employment really romantic. Drink on Tuesday nights. Meet people on those Tuesday nights that you high-five but never get their number. Make friends and never keep them. Take personal days in the tiny kitchen that is filled with jarred spices, condiments, and a bag of chips. Learn about sushi. Have a small circle you already knew before you moved here, the kinds of people you always complain about your love life to. Hold onto and love those people fiercely. Find friends of friends you think are cute, get annoyed that you meet people this way like in high school. Have numbers in your phone that you don’t need. Preface those numbers with ‘that night at (bar).’ Find it impossible to meet anybody until you do.
Roll around with that person in a small room in your overpriced apartment. Feel like this is an accomplishment until you feel restless. Feel like being restless is a thing you should feel. Try to fix it by getting a pet. Dance in a stupid club and tell everybody the next day you can’t believe you danced. Have ‘spots’ you think are ‘the usual’ except the bartenders never remember you. Fall in love with a new kind of ethnic food and fall more in love with brunch than you thought possible. Make connections with dogs on the street. Spend too much time contemplating life on long concrete walks. See the sunrise more than you should. Barely see anybody you like during the day. Get annoyed at couples grocery shopping and miss making out in your basement. Forget to buy paper towels and use napkins to clean the table. Take cabs at 3am. Pretend to clean your apartment, pretend you are going to eventually do laundry.
Meet nice people somewhere you didn’t expect. Have a conversation with somebody you never thought you would meet. Talk to somebody out of the blue. Enjoy these moments of fate immensely. Have more faith in humanity than you did when you lived wherever you came from.
Come home late smelling like smoke. Wonder how that happened, but really you know exactly how that happened. Promise you won’t spend too much money, expect free drinks but really only get shitty weather. Send texts to everybody you miss who is not in town because you are nostalgic for everything. Be single, ‘kind of single’, and ‘sort of single’ for months. Find somebody you like enough to watch movies with. Send bills in late. Revel in the fact that this is what youth is. Barely eat fresh vegetables anymore. Loathe the summer because it is too hot and miss it when it is gone. Get to know yourself and be surprised by it. You’d never bite your nails, you think, until you bite your nails. Forget all the great reasons why you moved here, fall in love with the reasons you didn’t think- cool breezes, car honkings, and knowing how to get places. Revel in being alone, revel in learning a city. Hate every job you have. Hate every bar you go to. Love both of these. Love everything. Have really, really good days. Stare at the city like ‘I got this.’ Swear you will eventually leave.
Then you stare at the skyline. Hate it. Be satisfied.It's really not as depressing as it sounds.
In other news, the title of that blog made me think of this.