New York City – As my time in New York draws to a close, people have been asking me all the usual “aren’t you going to miss…” type questions. Truthfully, no. I remember 23 years ago when I was headed to NYC from the midwest, a friend gave me a New Yorker magazine cartoon. It pictured two guys sitting at a bar. One is saying something to the effect of “But come on, New York has everything… laundromats, grocery stores, bowling alleys…” My first reaction was that I didn’t really get it… I mean, you can get that stuff anywhere. New York has theater, arts, culture… After being here a few years, I got it. Yes, it has all the stuff it’s famous for, but for those of us who call it home, mostly it’s about laundromats and grocery stores. Just like anywhere else.
I average one Broadway show a year, usually when someone from out of town comes to visit and wants to go. Sorry, but $100+ tickets for a couple of hours of entertainment aren’t usually my first priority. When I first got here I had season tickets to the ballet, once even for a season at the opera. Season tickets used to run under $200. Now they tend towards the $7-800 mark. Gym memberships have gone from $200 a year to anywhere between one and two thousand. Dining out anywhere “nice” is a count-on-able triple digit per person expense. New York, while it has always been a playground for the rich, has truly become that in the last few years. Just daily living expenses have become untenable for anyone with less than a six-figure salary.
So what am I going to miss? I hated finally giving up my (212) phone number. No one gets those anymore. Having one is a symbol of longevity here. In point of fact, I haven’t used it except for my fax line, for several years. I switched over to cellular as my fulltime phone some time ago. I’m going to miss the range of cuisine available here – unaffordable as it often is, and not always “up-to-snuff”, nonetheless, the choices are legion. Not many cities have as much ethnic diversity as New York. Strangely, I may miss the subway and bus system. Hellish as it can be, and complicated as it seemed when I first got here, I know I can get virtually anywhere in the city, relatively painlessly, and for half the cost of a Starbuck’s coffee.
One of my closest friends and I got together for dinner last night, most likely for the last time in New York. Certainly as a resident on my part. We started talking about where we might go. There are (always) so many new places we haven’t tried. We both had the same thought though. Five Points has been a favorite since the day it opened in 1999. The owners have become friends. The food is simple, homey, and always utterly delicious. There’s no fancy plating, there’s not a list of 47 ingredients. There are no foams, dusts, gels, airs, or dessicated anythings. In sumertime there’s nothing better than a Watermelon Martini made with freshly juiced watermelons and vodka, ice cold and a wedge of lime. Marc Meyer’s fried chicken (soaked in buttermilk and breaded with a light, fluffy, cinnamon-tinged crust) is in my opinion the best fried chicken in the city. I couldn’t think of anyplace better to have a last dinner with a good friend.