Escape member Elaina is a management consultant, UNC graduate and globe-trotter writing on OneVoiceInTheBigCity.
I have often joked that the longest relationship I have ever been in is with New York City. If New York were a man, he would be responsible for inflicting a serious emotional rollercoaster upon me. He takes me soaring from one high to another and then plummets me down into the deepest of lows. But I stick around for those euphoric ups, pretending the downs aren’t that bad, just like every girl does who is head over heels with one very toxic boyfriend.
Maybe it’s wintertime in the Big Apple, where the wind chill gobbles up your will to live, the gray skies steal the smile off your lips, and dismal concrete surrounds you like an outdoor extension of your cubicle.
Or maybe it’s being single when everyone else I know is pairing off with guys like they’re hailing cabs. And I’m alone on the curb, thinking that I would actually rather walk.
Maybe it’s the existential crisis I’m currently navigating, spending a lot more time thinking, reading, writing and figuring things out instead of brunching, drinking my body weight in happy hour specials, and dancing in the meatpacking district until 5am. I love all that stuff, but it’s just becoming a much lower priority lately.
Or maybe it’s just that I’m changing and my life in New York isn’t. I don’t see a future with him, so I’m slowly slipping away, losing touch, and deliberately not putting in the effort required to maintain the relationship. The honeymoon stage has ended and the once-glowing newlyweds are now seeing each other’s flaws for the first time.
The number one thing making me lose my already precarious grip on sanity is the pace of life here. I watch people literally knock each other over as they run to catch a train that is coming again in exactly three minutes. THREE MINUTES. What is so freaking important that you need to be there three minutes before everyone else? I can’t be bothered to move that fast without a serious fire lit under my ass. It’s representative of the do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-ahead mentality here and it rubs me the wrong way.
The second thing is the flakiness factor of New Yorkers. In such a big metropolis where everyone is running to get ahead, the lack of accountability we have to one another really slaps you in the face. People say they will meet you somewhere at 9, and then it becomes 10, and finally you might catch them for an hour at 11:30. That’s if they don’t just stop answering your texts or phone calls altogether and disappear into their own little abyss for a few weeks before they crawl out and acknowledge your existence again.
The last major thing is the quality of relationships in general here. With most anyone I know working 50, 60, 70 hours a week, it becomes nearly impossible to see them more than once or twice a week. How can you develop meaningful relationships when that’s all the time we’re able to commit to one another? (New York friends reading this: I adore that once a week we are able to see each other, but let’s face it: our busy lives keep us apart for most of our waking hours.)
The worst part?
Someone once told me, “What we can’t stand in others is really what we can’t stand about ourselves.”
And how true this is.
I, too, have fallen prey to marching through midtown streets with an angry snarl on my face, an hour late to meet someone who I don’t feel that much of a connection with anyway, so I might as well just bail and go work on something that will earn me a higher bonus at the end of the year.
That is not me. But this is where I am.
Human beings are sponges. And as such, we must be careful of the environments we choose to subject ourselves to, because we are highly susceptible to absorbing both their nutrients and their poison.
At the very least, I am no longer blinded to New York’s toxicity. We have had a very good run, but this relationship is on the verge of boiling over.
One of us is going to wind up marching out the door with all her stuff in boxes, and it is no secret which one of us that will be.
Maybe it will be for the best of both of us.