Hello New York, this is Jenn from Metroblogging DC . I’ve spent the weekend here visiting a friend and enjoying the lovely weather Saturday (Thanks to whoever returned my umbrella this morning!).
For me, travelling between DC and NYC is like travelling through my life – I grew up in Connecticut, just a thirty minute train ride to “the city” and I took advantage of that proximity, and the fact that my parents actually allowed me to come in when I wanted, even in the Koch era of “whatever you do, don’t go to the lower level of Grand Central!” I’ve now come to the point where I’ve lived the other half of my life in DC, which is such a strange thing. The two cities have a weird rivalry that’s mainly on DC’s side, with people transplanted to the capital city constantly griping about how much “better” the nightlife or dining or culture is in Manhattan.
Now, I love both cities and I think it’s nonsense to try and compare two places of such different backgrounds, age, and size as DC and NYC. But there’s one facet of difference that I find fascinating. I’ll call it “Island Living” – that peculiar habit of a lot of urban dwellers to stick within a five block radius their whole lives…
Not that I blame them. New Yorkers are really spoiled for choice. There are so many restaurants, bars, clubs, museums, etc., that I would think you get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of daily possibilities.
Friday night I rolled into the city around 10pm. I was tired, drained from work and having to navigate through a bomb scare in DC’s Union Station before boarding my train. I met my friend at the restaurant where she bartends and tucked into a delicious sampling of creamy buffalo mozzarella and then a seriously succulent shrimp cocktail. In order to escape a drunken Australian, I ended up beng adopted by a couple of regulars and in the course of conversation found the perfect definition of Island Living.
“You see,” the convivial gentleman said, “We’re natives. I grew up in Astoria. My wife grew up in Brooklyn. Now we live in Manhattan. We live just around the block. This is our place – we were even here earlier for lunch.”
“Don’t you get tired of going to the same place all the time?” I asked, “Don’t you want to explore?”
“Sure,” he replied, “But listen – friends are always saying, ‘you gotta try this place, you gotta try that.’ But why bother when you find the one you love? The one that welcomes you and where people know you? That’s better. That’s New York.”
That’s New York. Finding a neighborhood where you’re comfortable, where the bartender waves at you from the street when you’re on your way home. Where a restaurant owner knows your likes and dislikes, the bartender knows how you like your drink. In a city that’s so huge, where daily interaction can be so stressful, crowded, loud – to stay in your special place seems the perfect antidote.
And I can’t blame them. Pescatore, on 2nd Avenue between 50th and 51st. Delicious Italian, warm and romantic atmosphere. Try it. But I bet you can tell me your own island place, just as good, and right around the block.