I'm thrilled to share my dear Mag's story from Brooklyn today. When we met in England a year ago we had no idea how much we were going to learn from each other. Enjoy her New Yorker perspective who thought NYC would be annoyingly overrated.
For my 22nd birthday present this year, I received a plane ticket to New York City to visit my older cousin, Mary. I hadn’t been to New York City since I was a little girl and the only lingering memories I had of this mythical island were of busy, nerve-wracking streets and of a mother who wouldn’t let go of my hand while walking through crowded avenues.
Nothing about New York ever intrigued or inspired me, and it never left me wanting more.
Perhaps the fact that I’m from upstate New York can help explain this lack of appeal. You get quite sick of hearing about everyone’s wonderful post-grad adventures down in the city. After graduation, there seems to be a mass exodus of upstate New Yorkers to the downstate area. I have always held a firm stance that this path is not for me. No, I am destined to follow a trail that leads somewhere else, somewhere a more original and less cliché.
Well, nobody likes to have to swallow their words, but here I am; still struggling to get this one final gulp down my throat.
I could not have been more wrong about my preconceived, juvenile notions of NYC. All the resentment I had been harboring about its “unoriginality” or its tendency to be “overdone” quickly evaporated as soon as I stepped off the plane a few days ago.
As soon as I arrived, I met Mary at her workplace in SoHo, and we spent the evening together with some of her coworkers in Manhattan. The word I keep going back to, the word that describes how I felt about the evening: invigorated. My eyes were wide, my heart was racing and I just could not wipe the enormous smile off my face.
As we headed back to Brooklyn that night, I felt strangely comfortable among the noise and the chaos.
Little did I know, that feeling ended up paling in comparison with the feeling I got when I arrived in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is like an old friend whom you haven’t seen in years, and when you finally meet up again that friend is familiar yet trendy, cultured, wise and cool—seemingly without much effort at all.
I had never been to Brooklyn before but right off the bat I felt like a local.
Mary lives in Park Slope, so she is a few blocks away from the beautiful, sprawling Prospect Park. Even though it was January, the day was sunny enough to enjoy some quality time outside, and yet the time spent inside at the Brooklyn Museum was also welcomed. While in the Brooklyn Museum we marveled at a hodgepodge of attractions. The Museum is home to lots of mummies (Mary’s favorite) old Middle Eastern artifacts, reconstructed colonial furniture, some famed impressionism (My favorite) and a lot of exhibits featuring local artists from Brooklyn neighborhoods.
That evening, I was treated to Mary’s personal version of her neighborhood’s “Brooklyn Bar Crawl.” We went to a variety of bars: some unique, some hip, some shabby (some Austrian?). But each had the same vibe to them as soon as you walked in. Everyone was friendly, wanted to chat, complimented you on your shirt, or wanted to know where you were from. There’s something about Brooklyn that makes you feel like “we’re all in it together.” The same feelings that originally deterred me from wanting to pursue post-grad life down in New York are now the ones that are coaxing me to do just that.
There’s something magnetic and hypnotizing about Brooklyn, and maybe now I want to be a part of that mass exodus downstate after all.
By Margaret Guzzino