Today is the fourth anniversary of my arrival in New York City. As Jeff pointed out, it’s like we’ve done a whole undergrad degree in NYC. Or a presidential term. So in that spirit, I’ve been asking myself, what have I learned? What have I accomplished? Is the world (or at least my world) a better place? An incomplete list, in no particular order:
- I made some friends, and I found them in places as unexpected as my own building and a gingerbread building session in a bar.
- I told three stories live at The Moth, one of them a StorySlam winner and one at a GrandSlam championship.
- I’ve made decent progress studying to become a certified NYC tour guide. I could talk your ear off about the significance of DeWitt Clinton’s street grid and the Battle of Brooklyn (which, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with long brunch lines).
- I’ve fallen in love with New York City’s randomness and it’s commissioned and “uncommissioned” public art. I’ve chronicled dozens of Street Finds, although many of them are still on my camera, waiting to be shared.
- I got a new job advocating for young farmers on a national level.
- I’ve written more than half a dozen stories for Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn, but my first story is probably still my favorite.
- We’ve explored our new corner of the country: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Bar Harbor, Maine; the Hudson Valley; Fire Island; Boston; the Berkshires; and New Jersey.
- We’ve seen and even met a few celebrities, most thrillingly Sir. Patrick Stewart, but also Tina Fey, Steve Buscemi, and others.
- I’ve been to Governor’s Island, Staten Island and Roosevelt Island. But thankfully not Rikers Island.
- I rode a bike for the first time as an adult and rowed a boat in the Harlem River.
- I carried a Christmas tree home on a bus.
- I’ve been to every stop on the F.
- We’ve been to the MoMA, the Met, the Museum of Natural History, and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
- We made room for overnight guests on at least a dozen occasions.
- I’ve bought local fish and learned how to cook it. I know what a ramp is, how a sour cherry differs from a regular cherry (it’s sour) and who sells the best apples.
- I’ve been to one Broadways show (and got to go behind stage after), but I’ve also seen Shakespeare performed on the street and enjoyed a fire breather, a burlesque performance and a brass band from the comfort of my own block.
I’m not sure what I expected from New York City. It was and remains both an unknowable place and the most infamous, legendary, iconic city of all time. I’ve never stopped feeling grateful. Okay, maybe there was that one time, when it was cold. But I still think it’s worth it.