There’s a tiny courtyard not far from where I work that perfectly describes life in New York. It’s a tiny little improvisation of the gap between an ancient church and a monstrosity of an office building. It’s such a surprising little slice of nature, with its carefully manicured gardens lining the edges and even a square of grass towards the back.
But then you go back to sit on the grass and you realize it’s plastic. And the suits around you seem a little too silent as they eat their lunch on the checkerboard cement tables. And you have a choice. You can look at the perfect gardens and the fake grass and the non-talking Wall Street suits taking up all the seats and you can be disappointed, even angry, that you’ve been misled, that it’s all a big plastic and nothing is truly real. And I think everyone goes through that phase, whether it’s when they discover the hidden courtyard or when they move to the big city. But you can also choose to sit on the low brick wall at the back and kick off your shoes in the plastic grass. You can eat your lunch at the cute little green table and revel in the cool shade cast from the nondescript office building and the peaceful silence of lunchtime and this alcove of the city.
Like living in the city, it’s easy to be annoyed and frustrated and disappointed. It’s what they don’t tell you about New York–The day to day of it all, at least at first, sucks quite a bit. But you try to deal with the suckiness and find the surprising little secrets. You unpack you lunch, open your book, and enjoy the corners where you find those secrets.