I once wrote that the only thing my mother taught me was how to make Jell-O with Mandarin Oranges. That was, upon further review, a lie. She also taught me to keep my feet dry from the snow by wrapping plastic grocery bags over my socks and stuffing them inside my shoes. It’s a lesson that I hadn’t used in over ten years. But use it, I did.
I was at Hunter Mountain. Joined by a group of women from Miami and my BFF from high school, we were to explore life beyond a cellular signal in upstate New York. For some of them, it was their first time seeing snow. I, New Yorker, joined them in their quest to explore the Simple Life. It was your classic story of City Mouse and South Beach Mouse becoming Country Mouse(s).
That Saturday, we went snow tubing. While they were bundled from head to toe like Matthew Perry on route to the North Pole, I came to the breakfast table wearing bright blue skinny jeans and boat shoes that were falling apart. It was a celebration of everything one would assume a 20-nothing New Yorker would wear. Except, strangely, I was choosing to do so in the snow. My Buddy became embarrassed. The girls laughed. I played it off like it was just another weekend just doing what I do.
As we walked to the slopes, strangers acknowledged my shoes with laughter. I was in total City mouse mood. I loved it. One local offered me gloves. I was so New York. Too cool to luge.
But let’s be honest. I hadn’t worn those pants in a year. They aren’t just skinny. They’re inappropriately skinny. They’d be inappropriate in Williamsburg and they sure aren’t appropriate in the snow. And so once I got fat, I had to give my genatalia a break retire those Levi’s to the Land of Bad Fashion Choices. Why, then, would I wear them now?
When I got back to New York, I laughed and thought, “God, I’m such a phony”.
As I get older it becomes clearer that the only times I try to embrace whatever image outsiders have of New York is when I’m somewhere other than the City.
I change my voice and give my best Brooklyn accent. Coffee becomes coughfee. Off because aweff. It’s pathetic. And yet I’ve done a fake accent for so long, it has actually become the way I talk. I coordinate my colors and I rock a fitted hat.
In a lot of ways, I cannot stand New Yorkers under the age of 25. I hate riding the L train looking at unshaven Kerouac wannabes discussing Joan Didion. I hate PBR. I hate posers. And yet, that’s precisely what I become whenever I leave the five boroughs.
I recently waited for a concert behind my least favorite type of person ever: someone convinced they know everything about everything besides how entirely bland they are. While she rolled her own cigarettes, this woman went on and on about her environmentally friendly way to pay for brunch using her new app from a Startup. It was such bullshit and I got actively pissed. If she was New York, I want out. Now.
And yet, upon further further review, she at least was the consistent one. She was the presumed New Yorker, assuming a life that she didn’t realize was fake but doing so enthusiastically. She might have been annoying as fuck. But she wasn’t the bullshitter. That distinction went to me.
Which is funny because I don’t even like New York that much. Besides the variety of free things there are to do, bars are open until 4am and that my closest friends live here, it would be entirely replaceable. If I could find this combination of things in San Diego or Seattle or Charlotte or Nowhere, North Carolina, I’d go there. Probably more so than New York because the people in other places wouldn’t ginuflect over how tranformational their lifestyle is.
Naturally, there’s a assumed cache that comes from being from New York – an aura of sophistication, culture, recklessness and fun that obviously I’d love to claim. New Yorkers desperately want to. There’s a pressure to assume the whole of urban bohemian that I gladly play, when it is to my benefit.
Here’s the truth though. I eat at Applebee’s. I never bought fruit from a Farmer’s Market. I’d almost always rather see a concert outside of New York. I don’t take taxis and I’ve never had food from a Halal truck. Last Friday, I didn’t take whiskey shots with pickle juice from a Dive Bar in Williamsburg. I played Taboo with ten other people. It was entirely fun because that’s what people in New York do when don’t know or care what New Yorkers are supposed to do.
Although a six pack of Heineken cost me ten bucks. Only in Brooklyn. In that way, I do live as New Yorkers do. I just shouldn’t wear skinny jeans to prove it.