It's Not You, NYC, It's Me

Written By Paniz Johari - I was never good at these short bio things. Or at ice breakers.


The city so nice they named it twice... In the least ungrateful way, I've never felt this ready and this willing to escape the city. Had you had asked me about leaving as little as two months ago, my unwavering commitment to NYC would have overpowered all of my other obligations. Even thinking about another city made me feel unfaithful. 

I want to first acknowledge that NYC is truly one-of-a-kind. Sometimes, I'll text a friend something like, "Hey wanna grab coffee and go to the High Line or Central Park or something?" and then remember all over, "Woah. I live in New York. Cool."

It's also a cultural melting pot in every sense of the word. You will find literally any food item at any time of the day (can you tell what's really important to me?). Besides, where else is it possible to buy a slice of pizza for a dollar at essentially every other corner at 3 AM? 2 Bros Pizza was the best thing to happen to me throughout high school. I'm convinced that I can discover a different eatery each day for the rest of my life and still not have visited all of the ones in the city. So, I guess it makes sense that there is an indefinite number of NYC food Instagram accounts. I consider making one at least once a day. 

Speaking of social media, occasionally I’ll wonder whether my constant Snapchat stories of the skyline bother anyone. Because, PSA: I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon—there are far too many good geotags. If reveling in the sight of the skyline during a sunset over the Hudson is wrong, then I don't want to be right.

Accordingly, I had decided to stay in the city for college because I knew I'd instantly experience separation anxiety. And then upon starting, I was oddly possessive of it. Someone could say, "I went to Jack's Wife Freda yesterday. The green shakshuka is so good!" and I could only bitterly think "Yeah, but I was there first." Like, the majority of twentysomethings know about it by now. Simmer down. 

Since I didn't leave for college, I hadn't exactly experienced living somewhere else. Finally, the summer after my graduation, I left for 6 weeks to San Diego for a program. I’m not saying a month and a half is a "long time” per se, but it was the longest for me at least. It somewhat disturbed me—and I honestly can’t even provide reasoning—that the time in San Diego was three hours behind that in NYC. 

Anyhow, I went in completely resistant to falling in love with it. As the weeks went by, though, my initial stance dramatically changed, which shocked me a bit to be honest. Most people were so genuinely friendly and not in a perpetual rush. Every single day was a beautiful day; it wasn't either scorching hot or freezing cold. Not to mention, I ate the most delicious burritos I have ever had the pleasure of tasting and definitely ate one too many. I’m not sure whether I’m able to go back to burritos that don't have fries in them at this point. Why haven't we thought of that on the east coast yet? Aren’t we three hours ahead? 

In the end, I was pretty upset to bid farewell to eternally 70 degrees and sunny. Had I been brave enough, I would've packed my stuff that week and moved. I'm not, though, so I reassured myself that I'd visit. When I returned home, it was as though the "quirks" I had already noticed in New York were suddenly exaggerated. Everyone seemed extra mean and the summer felt extra hot. Trying to travel anywhere in Manhattan during rush hour only reaffirmed that we need a different plague. 

Despite everything previously mentioned, I still do love it here when I'm not busy being cynical. There is simply too much to love. I'm not, like, breaking up with the city. I just need a break.