My apartment is a nightmare right now.
I’m sitting here in my tiny Manhattan studio, and I’ve got an disassembled shower curtain rod on the floor in the center of the room, with a layer of fine dust over everything from the ceiling repair/re-plaster/re-paint job that is currently underway in my little bathroom. (From a leaking toilet in the apartment above mine…)
And it is in this precise moment, during this feeling of overwhelm and dread for getting this messy and acutely inconvenient job…that is stretching on the THIRD week now with an inoperable shower…that I’m realizing that it finally happened:
I got the New York “Ick.”
“The Ick” is a highly scientific term, where qualities and attributes of a person, place or thing, that were once held dear and sources of love and admiration — instantly become the exact opposite. Those same qualities and attributes suddenly — seemingly overnight — become sources of acute distain, disgust and annoyance.
Yep – I’ve got the New York “Ick.”
I’m noticing the garbage in the streets. Every insanely high grocery bill or insultingly high price tag on a drink or meal out with friends seems like a personal attack. The smells, the grime, the arrogance of the city — it’s as though all of a sudden, my rose colored glasses have shattered and I see the city in its noisy, dirty reality.
Which is shocking, because I have spent the last 11 years in an absolute love affair with my city. It’s been a fairy tale, one that I have been enamored with.
But truthfully, New York City is very different post-pandemic.
There’s not the same pulse and beat and energy it once had.
And I attribute that to a couple things:
a) The recent mass exodus of New Yorkers: people and money. Between April 2020 and July 2021, over 360,000 New Yorkers left Manhattan. That’s a staggering number of people to leave, but also take into account the $21 billion dollars in income those people made. (Source: The New Yorker). That money is no longer being spent into the New York economy. The restaurants, the retail, the services — those top earners aren’t feeding the economy anymore, and you can definitely tell with businesses barely able to make ends meet.
Couple that with the looting of last summer…it’s amazing any businesses survived at all!
2) Working from home eliminates a happy hour culture. New York was known for its post-work, 5pm drinking scene. Oh my gosh – bars in midtown were absolutely popping Monday – Thursday with eager (mostly single) workers wanting to mingle and blow off some steam. Now that just isn’t a thing, as there’s no actual water cooler to meet at, and plan the night’s activities.
3) The nightlife has changed. I don’t know if it’s the economy or the fact that New Yorkers got so used to Pandemic-hours with restaurants and bars closing early, but now, you’re hard pressed to find people wanting to go clubbing or bar hopping until all hours of the night anymore — which, was my personal favorite thing to do.
So yeah, New York City is definitely different, and all the reasons why we put up with the high prices and inconveniences of New York — like the culture and nightlife and restaurants and experiences — are no longer there anymore. Which means one thing: the New York “Ick.”
So what does this all mean?
I don’t know. I’ve got my windows open, (to air out the paint fumes I’m inhaling), and a saxophone is playing outside in the park below, and I can hear it crooning away in the late afternoon sun.
There is a lot to love about New York. There are a lot of really great things about this city. But in order to see the good, I can’t be focused on the bad.
Which, really, can be said for just about anything in life. When we look for the good, things are always better.
I think I’ll go take a little walk and listen to that saxophone and remember that I’m blessed to be alive, that the sun is shining, and I’ve got a roof over my head— albeit a leaky one…for now. 😉
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