The City That Never Sleeps. The Big Apple. The City of Dreams. Gotham. Empire City. The Concrete Jungle. It’s safe to say that New York City has almost as many names as it does people.
Individuals travel from all over the world to experience one or all of the New York City’s many personalities, making it the ultimate melting pot of cultures. Chinese, Italian, Japanese, German, Arabic - languages from all over the world swirl together and float through the air, accompanying the smell of fresh bagels and car exhaust.
The nights draw just as many people as the days and everyone from tourists, businessmen, police officers, buskers, teenagers and celebrities can be seen roaming the littered sidewalks at all times of the day.
The World Trade Center towers over the financial district, reminding the 8.4 million residents that pay an arm and a leg to rent a loft the size of a smart car why this is the best city in the world. There is never a quiet moment, as the streets are constantly swarming with people, sirens are constantly howling and horns are constantly honking. You can buy a slice of pizza that may or may not have been prepared by a chef who hasn't showered let alone wash his hands in a week, but it's $2, so why not? It's an all out cluster, but it’s what makes this city like no other, and everyone loves it.
Everyone except for me, that is.
My first trip to the Big Apple not only made me remember why I chose a small liberal arts university instead of a large state school, it made me cherish my small town upbringing more than ever before.
When I embarked on the trip, I had full expectations of absolutely falling in love with the city. I was ready to dive head first into big city living for a week and I assumed I'd have no trouble doing so. But from the second I stepped foot into on to the swarming city streets jam-packed with buildings that were tall enough to make me feel I was staring in a sequel to “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” I knew that wasn’t going to be the case.
I guess growing up in a town whose population was a whopping 8,000 people, ridded my body of all the Yankee blood my mom was convinced coursed through my bones. I imagine each scraped knee and paper cut allowed my body to slowly purge the city blood that felt so foreign in a small town.
The skyscrapers, the cabs, the subway, even Times Square and the Empire State Building - everything that I expected to enjoy, I disliked.
The buildings were too tall, the horns were too loud, the food was overpriced, the people were either grimy and asking for money or pristinely dressed in an outfit that probably cost as much as my entire college education. The air was polluted from the constant flow of germs and god-knows-what that flooded through the subway grates. And where were my mountains?
I missed everything about home, but I wasn’t homesick. I was just disappointed. All my life I had assumed I would love the city and that it’d be a sin against humanity to dislike it. Prior to my trip, my friends, family and even myself insisted I would love, love, love the city, and I think that made it even harder to admit to my distaste.Part of me wants to go back and visit just one more time; and even though someday I am sure I will, all of me knows that no matter what, I would rather be with 7,999 people who I know rather than over 8 million people who are just another face in a crowd.