It is mid-afternoon on Saturday, June 16th, and as I leisurely sip my second coffee of the day, slumped across a sleek brown-leather L-shaped couch in a cozy, completely furnished apartment a block south from Central Park, I realize that I have been in the city for exactly two weeks. It is a surreal reflection. In the past two weeks, I’ve become familiar with and comfortable working in my internship at the Guggenheim. I’ve learned a few of the security guard’s names and greet them warmly while flashing my badge as I arrive each morning. I’ve memorized the closest Citi Bike stations, and I’m taking FULL advantage of the 50 cent cups of coffee available to employees. Even just two weeks in, the Guggenheim and it’s incredible Education Department is teaching me so much about art education’s roles, responsibilities, and potential. It’s also teaching me a lot about myself, as an artist, writer, and aspiring art educator. There’s a lot to learn.
I’m also slowly learning local tips and tricks as well. Sunday/Wednesday farmer’s markets (or let’s be more realistic, Trader Joe’s) are key, and unless I want to walk home barefoot, I must be pocketing at least three Band-Aids at all times. There is no “summer” in NYC. Only “blister-season.”
Any-who! While the city still holds it’s potential and charm, I think that the longer I stay, the more that the glamour I used to so quickly accredit it fades. I really that sounds rather pessimistic, but it’s actually been quite comforting and reassuring. Here are a few reasons why I think so (as well as a few life-lessons that the city is so graciously teaching me).
- 1. I must stop comparing myself and self-worth to others. Material-wise, the class-differences in NYC far exceed that of suburban Wisconsin (shocking!). I will likely never wear Givenchy or touch Prada, nor will I ever own a pair of Gucci loafers (though, I am still hopeful). “Whatever, thrifting is more fun anyways,” I say, as I tear my eyes away from the fur-lined slip-ons clacking past me down the sidewalk.
- 2. Cat-calling still exists, and in full-force if any of you were skeptical. Years and years of objectification and degradation, and the best they can come up with is “hey, baby.” So unoriginal, if you ask me.
- 3. It was interesting those first few days, realizing that I was feeling rather isolated. I hadn’t been seeking out any company outside of my apartment. With this many people in one place, you wouldn’t think that making friends (or making plans) would be so difficult. But I’m happy to report that I have been successful in seeking it out! I have friends, I swear.
- 4. Money – if you don’t have it, don’t spend it. That’s all I have to say about that one.
- 5. Alone time and relaxation is so incredibly important! Being in Manhattan won’t stop me from kicking my shoes off, putting my feet up, and shamelessly binging the latest Westworld episodes.
6. I am me. I’m going to do whatever I’m going to do wherever I’m going to do it. New York isn’t going to make me cooler, smarter, prettier, etc.! In fact, it’s actually making me realize how un-cool, inexperienced, and average-looking I am (which is totally okay!). I’m sticking to what I know (art) and what I love (artists and art museums) and I’m going from there. It hasn’t seemed to wrong me so far.
- 7. NYC Kindness! It’s important to note that although the city has dragged both me and my bank account these past few weeks, it holds an abundance of amazing people full of kindness and compassion – people who are quick to give up their seats on the subway for someone less able, strangers scurrying to help pick up the contents of a dropped purse, holding a door, leaving a generous tip. Just the other day, I maxed out my metro card and was stuck at a station where there were no kiosks to refill it. Just then, an absolute queen with long black hair and a killer leather jacket breezed past me, swiped through the turnstile, opened the emergency exit door adjacent, and waved me through. I was STUNNED. I thanked her over and over, and she simply smiled softly, floated down the elevator, and disappeared into the depths of the underground. I wouldn’t doubt that it was God, herself.
8. Lastly and most importantly, I’m realizing (once again) that for me, the people close to me are far more important and essential to my well-being than the city I’m in. I’m not sure that this amazing summer and opportunity makes up for the fact that the man I love is (if you round up) a thousand miles away, and that I am quite dramatic – both of which are taking it’s toll on my heart. :( Regardless! This experience has reminded me to really cherish the present and never take for granted FaceTime, a strong wi-fi signal, and the people who really love you.