32 Things I’ve Learned in New York City

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One year and four days ago today, I pulled a Rachel from the Glee Season 3 finale and stepped off a bus with a suitcase, officially New York City’s newest resident. I was not singing and there was no camera pan around me; in fact, I felt calm. This felt right.

A few things that happened in the next year: I started a job. I finished a job. I found an apartment. I found another apartment (I found a subletter; I found another subletter). I traveled to Boston and Philly and Chicago. I built a committed relationship with another person.

Something I didn’t do much of was writing blogs. I just couldn’t find my story. However, even though I haven’t written about much of it, I have learned so many things since I’ve moved to New York.

In honor of one full year in New York- and staying in one place for more than a year for the first time since college- here are the 32 things I’ve learned in New York.

  1. Everyone’s needs are important, but the person who’s the loudest usually gets theirs met first.
  2. One of the most important ways we can respond to all of the bad things that happen is having willingness to see other people as people and having willingness to truly forgive.
  3. Humility is essential if you ever want to like another person.
  4. The best leaders are not the ones who know how to be right. They’re the ones who will admit it when they’re wrong.
  5. It’s never too late to reconnect with a person or thing from the past.
  6. Don’t try to park a car on the Upper West Side 30 minutes before you have to leave for work on a street cleaning day.
  7. One of life’s great joys is harmonizing with other people (literally and figuratively).
  8. You really can’t come home again- but some things never change.
  9. Sometimes when you don’t plan and just go with it the end product is far better than something you could have come up with originally.
  10. People have much more in common than we realize, but we only find the similarities if we look.
  11. There is truly no queso in the world that compares to Tex Mex, although more restaurants could stand to start trying.
  12. It’s okay to admit that you’re having a hard time. People might even want to help.
  13. Pretty much anything can happen with a spirit of adventure and a Metro card (unless you’re trying to take the B train. Then nothing can happen.)
  14. Texas really is the place that people love to hate. That hasn’t changed anywhere I’ve been.
  15. Asking a person about their passion is an amazing way to connect and to see them for who they are.
  16. Taking your morning run through Central Park, past the Imagine circle, and back by the Met does not ever get old.
  17. Hope and possibility save lives.
  18. Managing people means questioning whether you’re a good person pretty much every day, but it also gives you a lot of perspective.
  19. Being right is way less important than being with the right person.
  20. Time is not what indicates whether a place feels like home.
  21. Things become astonishingly clear when you pause everything and just start writing stuff down.
  22. Everything changes. That includes people.
  23. It’s actually happening- we’re growing up. My friends have babies and I can no longer eat plain icing without getting a stomach ache.
  24. I have a weirdly good memory for event dates or what I ate for dinner on a random day in March, but if you ask me what my apartment building looks like I definitely couldn’t tell you. (We all have different abilities!)
  25. Categorizing people pretty much only makes things worse.
  26. Every place you go, you will find pockets of good.
  27. Tragedy always brings people together, and it always makes them go beyond the kindness they thought they had.
  28. Inspiration comes from feeling safe and valued; even the most creative person’s abilities can be totally stifled by a poor environment.
  29. Welcoming a person actively and immediately is one of the hugest ways to impact their entire experience.
  30. Never silence another person. Never silence yourself.
  31. Winter can actually be cool! But only if you see the Rockettes. Also, there is very little redeemable about the month of March.
  32. Turmeric lattes. Enough said.

That’s all at the moment- here’s to even more in the next year. As for now, it’s time for Round Two! Let’s do this, New York.

Winter’s Tale: Every Person Matters

Winter’s Tale was not the kind of movie I expected. I figured that this period piece would revolve around a couple whose love is so strong that the hopelessly ill woman somehow survives, and that would have been just dandy.

But this movie threw me for a loop. It was more than just fantasy, it was the kind of fantasy that gets really technical and explains to you exactly how it works. It’s this mix between magic and religion and fate and also a random touch of what I think is Native American lore. It gives us religion in a very literal sense, with Lucifer literally living underground in New York (because where else would Lucifer live?). And when the religious texts teach us that a guardian appears as a white horse, it literally appears as a white horse. This is a story about what happens when we die, with less mystery and more romance: when we’re done, we become stars. Or sometimes we don’t die, because we can’t. Each of us has a miracle to give, and we can’t die until we’ve given that miracle.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The main character, Peter, falls in love with Beverly, a 21-year-old who’s nearing the end of her battle with consumption. The two have a charming and quirky first encounter, and after that they are simply in the deepest of loves (which I’m not a huge fan of, but that’s an aside). Peter gives us the fabulously romantic line, “Is it possible to love someone so completely, they simply can’t die?” It’s a nice thought; if we care about someone enough, we can stop him or her from leaving us. But that’s not real life, and it’s not Peter’s life either.

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Peter has a miracle to give, but as Will Smith a.k.a. Lucifer tells the (in my opinion) horrendously miscast Russell Crowe, who plays the bad guy, that miracle is not saving Beverly. In fact, relative to the whole movie her part is sort of small.

After Beverly dies, Russell Crowe catches up with Peter and throws him off a bridge. Because Peter hasn’t given his miracle yet, he survives, but for no explicable reason he forgets his identity. He hangs out for 80 years or so, basically sitting around wondering who he is and not aging. Finally, in 2014, he meets a little girl named Abby who’s dying of cancer. Long story short, Peter realizes that this girl, Abby, is the one whom his miracle was meant for. He saves her, and then his best friend the white horse (aptly named “Horse”) comes to grab him and they fly off to become stars.

I’m skipping over some parts, but the important thing is the narrator’s message at the end:

Why would so many things conspire to save one little girl’s life?
But what if it wasn’t just Abby? What if she is no more or less special than any of us? What if we are all unique, and the universe loves us all equally? So much so that it bends over backwards across the centuries for each and every one of us. And sometimes we are just lucky enough to see it.
No life is more important than another. And nothing has been without purpose. Nothing. What if we are all part of a great pattern that we may someday understand?

And at that, I loved this movie. Because the one value I believe in more strongly than anything else is that every single person matters. It sounds simple, but when you really think about it, it’s not.

Sometimes movies will show us that “everyone” matters by telling the beautiful story of people who fall in love or rise from nothing to greatness or in some other way deserve our care. I was expecting little Abby to grow up to be the mother of the president or something like that, and that’s why this guy literally could not die until he saved her. But I was wrong.

A person doesn’t need to be the mother of the president to matter. They might be a linguist or a house wife or a drug addict or a custodian or an athlete or a philosopher or a random little girl. It doesn’t matter. The stranger you bumped into on the subway or waved at while jogging or saw in a picture without recognizing? That person is exactly as important as you. Because we all matter. Every one of us. Whether you know somebody’s story or not, they are a human and they came into this world because, for some reason or other, they deserve to be here.

In a way it’s kind of liberating. This movie tells us that you don’t have to fall in love so completely that you believe you can save your lover from death. You don’t have to do something incredible. Because you are alive, you are a miracle. You can give miracles. And even if you don’t know your purpose, don’t sweat it too much because- even if it means knocking you off a bridge, causing amnesia, and keeping you from aging for 80 years- fate will get you to just where you need to be, no matter how many times it has to try.

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