First it took out Brooklyn’s Biggie. Then it snuffed the super talented Tupac. Then it took over my damn Facebook feed, and now it’s gracing the pages of the NY Post. It is, ladies and gentlemen, the world’s most annoying battle in the world: THE WEST vs EAST COAST! Blah blah blah. I’d rather listen to yuppie Brooklyn parents argue about the merits of working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. And trust me, I hear this one a lot. (A tip regarding that: Whatever works best for you and yours. It doesn’t matter anyway—all kids grow up to be teenage twats.)
I live in New York. I have lived here for ten years now. This city can suck subway rat balls, and I very often question what the hell I’m doing here, especially when it’s time to pay rent or I pass by a stinky box of fart in the middle of a humid summer. When my older sister posts pics of her cute apartment in Santa Monica, decorated in surfboards and palm fronds, I always feel a pang of jealousy. When my NYC friends move to LA and say “This is my new backyard!” as they tag photos of Venice Beach, I feel a pang of jealousy. Their photos make me want what they have. I’m beachy too! I like to hike on the weekends too! Yet still, I live here in New York. Why? I don’t really know. (My husband says it’s because we’re magazine writers and need to be here for work.) I guess it’s because I really do like it. Sometimes. Maybe even half of the time. Well, in spring, summer and fall. That constitutes as three quarters of the time. Pretty good odds, which is probably why I haven’t left yet.
But what I can’t quite compute is, why are the West Coasters always trying to rub our noses in the idea that West is best? Isn’t it enough that they’ve found personal bliss from the moderate temperatures, the poolside business meetings, and adorable apartments in close proximity to the beach and Urth Cafe? Why the need to constantly remind you that their side is inherently better? Nobody in New York tries to convince you that it’s better here.
It almost feels like L.A. is a big, fun, sunny cult. Once someone gets there, they make it their mission to bring you into the fold. “Try it, you’ll like it! It’s awesome. So relaxing. So fun. Hiking. We hike. Hiking meetings. Runyon Canyon. Running up stairs. Juice. Yoga. Cleanse. Fit. Hiking.Hiiiikinggg!!!” they say, tan fingers beckoning at your pasty white ass. “No more stress! No more chronic hangovers! Try it, try it, try it!”
The difference here is that New Yorkers are just too busy trying to figure out how to live life to worry about recruiting outsiders. New York doesn’t really need to recruit anyone. People are constantly moving here, which means there’s always some rich butthole eyeing your nice apartment, or a young hard-worker who will do your job for half the wage. Living here is competitive. Stressful. Annoying. But it can be fun and rewarding. Rewarding? Yes. I can’t explain it, but I still think there’s an underlying friendliness here that is almost more genuine than in any Midwestern or West Coast city. I know that sounds like a joke, but there is. Everyone here is approachable. You just have to try it. Maybe because no one owns this place. We’re all just living, doing our own random shit, trying to afford the roofs over our heads. And so we help tourists. We know our deli owner by name. We smile and say hi to that one person we see all the time at the playground, dog park, bar. Total strangers can totally become good friends.
And no one cares if you’re famous or rich here—if you’re fumbling at the subway turnstile while our train is approaching, it doesn’t matter if you’re Ghandi reincarnated. You’re just slow, bitch. And I would like to point something awesome out about New York that trumps the West. (NO, it’s not that we have good pizza and bagels. Does anyone really care about a “good bagel???”) It’s that when we meet someone new and ask if they want to get a coffee sometime, it’s very rare that they will instead try to cajole us into an early morning hike.