Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

On Embracing New York City

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

I can’t imagine living anywhere else but here.

I used to feel like I could never live in NYC, but that was back when I never ventured outside of two neighborhoods: Midtown and Harlem. I know I’m a black woman from Chicago with dreadlocks, but Harlem is just not really my type of neighborhood.

I go there for food and music, then I take my butt home.

And Midtown is a work neighborhood for me, not a play neighborhood.

I used to think we’d live here for like 3-5 years then go live in Europe for a few years, maybe have a baby there. Then when our kids were old enough, we’d try living in Honduras as well. I wanted to be a world traveller, with roots all over.

But I can’t imagine living anywhere else but here.

I feel like a Chicagoan through and through. That city vibe mixed with some Midwestern sensibilities describes me pretty well I think.

But if a tornado sent me to Oz and I clicked my heels three times to bring me home, I would probably wake up in Greenwich Village and have to take the subway back to Bed-Stuy where our brownstone is.

I’m telling you, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would fill a suitcase with $10 million, go ring the doorbell of my dream home in the Village. When they answered the door, I would hand them the briefcase and say, “here’s a bunch of money, you don’t live here anymore. I do. I’ll be back in a week for the keys. Thanks!”

And because $10 million is a slight upgrade to the current value of that house, they would take my deal and buy another building up the street that is currently for sale.

That’s right. My dream home costs almost $10 million dollars. Stupid Greenwich Village that stole my heart. Why couldn’t I fall in love with a nice neighborhood in Brooklyn?

I feel that it’s important to say that I do love where we live in Bed-Stuy. I like that it has a really eclectic feel. The developers are moving in though, and those folks always end up raising rent. We already have the Zagat rated restaurants that people travel to for dinner, lunch, and brunch.

New Yorkers love their brunch.

Nice restaurants plus developers mean that before you know it, there will be a real organic produce store in the area. I’ll finally be able to get fresh cilantro that doesn’t spoil on me in less than 24 hours.

There is a house up the street from us that sold for $325,000 in January of this year that is now on sale for $1,450,000. If Easy and I stay in this neighborhood and purchase a home, we’re going to have to go the foreclosure route. I can’t believe they were able to get a house on that block for that cheap.

Since we’ll probably never have a million dollars lying around, that’s going to be our only option.

Luckily, that’s a problem that’s years ahead of us.

For now, we’re renters and city explorers.

Which brings me back to the ways I like to experience this city. Over a month ago, I mentioned a couple of different NYC things I wanted to try. Guess what? I haven’t done any of those things yet.

I ought to be ashamed of myself.

I still intend to get over to the Whitney Museum. And I’m internet stalking BBQ Films so I don’t miss their next event.

So I will redeem myself.

In the mean time, I have done other things.

I found the one barbeque joint in NYC that didn’t piss me off. It came recommended by someone who’s from Tennessee. And they were right about how good it is.

The place is called Fette Sau. I had some amazing dry rub ribs there last weekend. It’s definitely going to be a What’s Hot… post.

The food was so good that the 2 hour wait in line to get it was totally worth it. A week later, I still feel like it was totally worth it.

The main reason I’m trying to hard to embrace New York is because it hasn’t disappointed me yet. This city is amazing.

And once you get over the fact that the entire city smells like pee from May-October, nothing can stop you.

For instance, Easy and I had a date day this past Sunday. We went to the Brooklyn Museum, which was an exercise in patience to get to. The traffic was insane. They have several places all lumped together: Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Zoo, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Art Museum, and I want to say there’s a children’s museum over there too.

But we made it through and paid only $12 for parking.

Coming from Chicago’s museum campuses, that’s an amazing price. When we got inside the Brooklyn Museum, there was a suggested donation of $12. I was like, What?!?!

Had we gone to pretty much any major museum in Chicago, parking would’ve been $20+ based on how long we stayed, tickets would’ve been $25+ based on the day of the week. We paid $36 instead of like $75. Score one for NYC actually being cheaper than Chicago.

When we got into the museum, it turned out they had a really amazing exhibit called Witness. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow photography inside.

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There were moments where I wished I knew or cared more about art so I could be more familiar with the people quoted as having opinions that matter on the artwork. But overall, it was very moving.

I could decide if I wanted to look at the art then read what it was about or the opposite, so I tried both. Some of the pieces were really moving no matter what order I took them in. At one point, I had tears in my eyes. Not the oh-isn’t-this-so-beautiful tears, but the we-have-some-fucked-up-history-in-this-country tears.

I feel blessed I didn’t have to live through that time. I’m proud of myself that I care enough to pay attention to the history because I’m not really a history person. There were only one or two specific events in the Civil Rights struggle they mentioned that I wasn’t familiar with. I made notes of the events with plans to look them up later.

It’s not a pretty history, but it’s powerful. I would say that knowing what I do about the 1950s and the 1960s and what it means to people who look like me who lived through that time gives me a strong desire for fairness. It’s probably why I care so much about LGBT rights. I know a lot of people don’t see the two issues as comparable, but I sure as hell do.

The part of the exhibit that really stole the show for Easy and I though was this video they had on loop. To me it’s not really a museum exhibit if you don’t have a video on loop.

This video was of Nina Simone singing this amazing song on a Dutch TV show.

We sat there and watched it then watched it some more. I think because Easy is a jazz musician, seeing that performance there in the context of all the other Civil Rights art felt very profound.

Easy’s favorite piece was actually a self portrait of a man wearing a superman t-shirt and rocking a fantastic afro. It was part of the Black is Beautiful section. It’s hard to believe there was a time when people really had to make straight up ad campaigns to teach my people that they are beautiful, but it’s true.

I guess that’s not so crazy seeing as how I couldn’t be in the Army right now with my locs, but that’s a whole other issue, and I digress.

I’m getting back on topic, and that is embracing New York City. I’m looking forward to doing it more. Summer stage, sporting events, museums, restaurants, and live music. I want it all.

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3 responses

  1. I’ve said this many times, but NYC is definitely one of my favorite places to visit. I just love the sheer amount of options there are there, I just wish it was cheaper so it would be more feasible to travel there more often.

    May 4, 2014 at 16:21

    • You need to put your change in a cookie jar or something and save up and then come visit. And when you do, we must meet for drinks at one of the many great wine bars I’ve been to here.

      May 7, 2014 at 23:47

  2. Pingback: On Becoming Even More Of A New Yorker | A Chicago-Style Girl in NYC