Since 2001, I’ve been to New York 11 times and counting. I love this city with the kind of love that comes from the crevices of my heart; it’s that deep my friends. The first time I went was - coincidentally - September 10th, the day before 9/11, and while it was such a surreal experience, I learned that New Yorkers have got a strong sense of loyalty for each other - and I’ve been goo-goo gaga over the city ever since. As a matter of fact, I’m working on a major project their this summer which is almost tempting me to move back (emphasis on “almost”) so here’s four reasons why I’d pack my bags tomorrow and one reason why I wouldn’t (sort of minor, but pretty major for me):
1) The hustle. One thing I love about my NYC’ers is that they graft like every day’s a Monday. They could be clocking in at Wall Street or shifting Louis Fake-tons, but whatever the case may be, they work hard, and equally play hard - a philosophy I endorse wholeheartedly because when it comes to getting down (I’m talking Run DMC on the ones and twos with a mild dashing of The Cool Kids) NYC is truly the place to be. Yep.
2) Manna’s Soul Food Restaurant in Harlem. The very first time I went a branch of this chain, I put so much food on my plate, that once I learned you paid according to the “weight ” of your food, I left $17.00 lighter then necessary. Vex. Saying that, I’ve learned how to beat the system (leave the cornbread ALONE and opt for the chicken wings - they’re surprisingly light!) and consider this spot as the BEST lunch/dinner/supper spot if you want soul food on the sorta cheap and ridiculously tasty. If you want bougie, go to Sylvia’s.
3) Walking. The grid system in Manhattan means walking to most of my destinations will normally be my first choice of transportation because it just seems to EASY. I’ve even walked to Brooklyn from Harlem once (don’t do it in Converse though! Your feet will resent you the next day) and it was alright, actually. Walking long distances in London is drier than crispbread; too many roundabouts.
4) The characters. Londoners, Britons even, are kinda reserved. It’s a fact, and not a derogatory one, so I hope we’re still good. And yet, I can remember most New Yorkers I’ve met randomly because of the things they did. Like the crazy dude I met at the Jazz On The Park hostel who wanted ME to pay to take his picture (it cost me a good few dollars as far as he was concerned - told y’all about the hustle!)…or the guy I bumped into on 125th street who started screaming “You think you better than me? All educated and s**t?! What, you got a degree and s**t? Get the f**k OUTTA HERE!” when I wouldn’t give him my number :-/; or the time I met Andre Harrell (google him) and in the campest of fashions ( Peering down his glasses: “Y’all from London!? I’m taking y’all OUT tonight!!! Mmmmm hmmm!”). He got me and my peeps into a club where Pharrell et.al were in attendance. Then there was the girl at Popeyes Chicken who looked at me like I killed Tupac when I said that there were other black people in London. The shock on that poor chicken’s face. All good people really (even Mr I OBVIOUSLY DON’T HAVE A GED). Good times, trust.
5) The Rats. Now, I have such a resentment and fear of these creatures that after a friend told me how she spotted a dozen (a DOZEN! Take me NOW Jesus!!!) rats on a trash pile one night in Manhattan near 37th street (see how I remembered the street?) I’ve now resorted to instantly jogging to my destination if I’m still on road as the sun sets. I am NOT kidding. I’ll be in mid-conversation and just pick of the pace until I’m in full sprint. My theory is a rat won’t chase you if you’re already running (or would they??? :-/) and I’ll be moving way to fast to spot ‘em. (I know, I know….)