For much of my life, I’ve been the youngest person in the room. It’s been that way since the very beginning, as I’m the youngest of four. My birthday falls in July, so I was in the younger half of my class throughout my academic career. I was among the youngest staffers at TheDC, and I’m currently the youngest employee at L(L). I’ll never lose my sophomoric sense of humor, so chances are, I’m going to be young at heart for life.
Sooner or later, I’ll age considerably. After reflecting on a conversation I had with Elizabeth, I worry that day will come in less than a year. Elizabeth is only a year and a half older than I, but she speaks as if we’re from completely different generations. I mentioned this yesterday after she said she feels like she’s aged millions of years since moving to the concrete jungle at 17.
“You’re 24, Elizabeth,” I said. “That’s hardly ancient.”
“I’m 24 in human years, but in New York years, I’m 2 million,” she said.
“New York ages you like no other,” Amanda piped in.
“I feel less stressed here than I did in DC,” I added, to which the others giggled and responded, “You haven’t been in New York for very long. Just you wait.”
Though I’m pretty satisfied with New York — aside from residing in a neglected, sorry town buried in garbage and rats — I wonder what I’ll have to say about the quality of life here twelve months from now. Will I tire of having to bundle up five months out of the year, worrying about plane delays and cancellations due to volatile weather, constantly chasing after subway trains (though I vowed to never do this, I caved about a month ago. Living by the ever unreliable G train will do that to you), dealing with surly, petulant Westside Market cashiers who don’t respond to “hello” and get their panties in a bunch every time I decline environmentally unfriendly plastic bags, needing to always be on guard when riding the subway, cutting my nights on the town short to account for my hour-long metro ride home, being suspicious of every stranger who says so much as “hi” to me, seeing a pack of cops inside my subway station on a daily basis, and having my steaming, perfectly brewed cup of Think Coffee java become lukewarm after a second in winter weather?
During my short visit to California last month, I went to the dentist for a cleaning and had a discussion with the hygienist about residing in New York. She’d previously nannied in the upper west side and knew Manhattan all too well.
“I was surprised by how much energy it took me to live there,” she said. I tend to feel the same way, but not in a negative manner. You absolutely cannot be lazy here. You’ll either run out of money, become lonely or depressed, get robbed, have no life outside of work, or have no job at all. There are plenty of reasons why you’d age fast in New York City, but the same can be said about pretty much any location. If I’d stayed in Tucson or California, I would have spent all my days out in the sun, and that’s far from good for my complexion or health. DC is full of smokers and pretentious wannabe politicos, so you’ll wind up reeking of cigarettes or wanting to jab your eyeballs with some sort of phallic object upon spending too much time with either of those types. The pretentious people in New York act like they dress and behave better than the average joe, but are, for the most part, aware that they have a long way to go before feeling satisfied with their careers.
In spite of my laundry list of pet peeves, I’ve enjoyed New York immensely during my three months here, and I hope to explore the city even further throughout 2012. If anything, I feel the healthy tendencies of NYC residents are keeping me healthy and young: I am constantly in motion, consume many organic products, am in a profession I love (and have been told by numerous old friends that I look happier and more relaxed than I ever did in the district), work in a room of many windows and absorb the sun for much of each day, and often encounter chipper people wherever I go.
So, ladies and gentlemen, take a good look at this recent photo and tell me honestly at the end of 2012 whether I’ve aged or not: