“Getting bored is not allowed.” - Eloise, permanent resident of The Plaza, my role model
Every time I walk past The Plaza in Manhattan, I feel slightly overwhelmed. It’s on Fifth Avenue, The Fifth Avenue, land of serious storied architecture brightened by the best Christmas windows cinema can conjure. And on this intersection of Mighty Fifth with the behemoth Plaza at its head, its heels dug deep into the oldest of money and power, is an unassuming see-thru cube, an empty vessel of modernity that symbolizes our great country today, an Apple store (in America’s Big Ol’ Apple, no less). Behind lies the entrance to dozens upon dozens of grassy Central Park knolls lined with polar-teched runners, and between are the smells of roasting nuts, the elbows of bumbling tourists and the clunkedy-clunk-clunk of horse-drawn carriages.
However, it isn’t this actual scene that envelopes me; it is the idea of this quintessential thoroughfare of Manhattan, the one I’ve seen thousands of times in my head, read about in books and watched in too many happy endings. The New York City that is supposed to make you realize you are indeed in New York Mutherfuckin City.
As a young, plucky gal out of college, I applied for three internships here, but instead got the single one I applied for in Los Angeles. LA beat the shit of me, and I’m glad that New York wasn’t burdened with such a task, because surely, anywhere I landed in my twenties would have left me defeated and soured. New York has been allowed to retain its majesty.
Now, after a few romantic, educational and general blah-blah-blah detours, I’ve finally landed here. When people ask me what’s it like to live in New York, I’m not sure what to say. I suppose I should have some kind of canned shtick ready. (Okay, I do: You never have to drive drunk! For $9 someone washes and folds your laundry for you!) But in all honesty it’s like living anywhere else, as best you can, on your own terms—I wake up in an apartment I like, in a neighborhood I chose, I show up at a job that’s not so bad, one that pays my bills so I can do what I really enjoy. I walk, I buy tofu, I drink tea, I watch Housewives on my computer. And yet living in New York is not like living anywhere else. New York doesn’t conform to you, nor do you have to conform to it. Wander through it, absorb, get absorbed. Be anonymous, be a freak, no one gives a shit.
However, there are moments, like when I see The Plaza, or the tree at Rockefeller Center and I think, holy mutha fuckin shit, I live in New York! When I’m at the Highline Ballroom and the crowd is dancing, the drums are swelling and The Roots are calling out, “How you feelin’, New York?” I realize wow, that’s me they’re talking to.
I think Eloise, six-year-old city child and queen of The Plaza, understands it best: Where we live is badass—sometimes you abuse it for what it’s worth, sometimes you just go on living, and other times that notion of badassness makes you strut a little harder.