All the lonely people, where do they all come from?: One girl’s story in the city

Empire State Building photo found on Tumblr here.

There’s a water tower on top of a building two streets north from mine that blocks my view of the Empire State Building. Even though my rent is already ten times higher than the national average, you have to pay even more for a view that’s not blocked by something. New York is like that though – greedy. It saps all your money, all your energy, and all your patience. You’re so saturated in people, never ever really able to be by yourself. Even if you’re lucky enough not to have a roommate, there’s always people on top, below, across, behind. The best mornings are the ones when I manage to snag a walk down a sidewalk that I have all to myself.

Some people think that this kind of crowding is exciting – that you could meet anyone, anywhere, at any time. It’s technically possible, but mostly we all just stand in silence. Anytime any one talks they’re only asking for something, usually it’s money but sometimes they NEED TO KNOW IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT. So all day you’re making eye contact with people you never speak to, and when I get home at the end of all of it, it just makes me sad.

I’m sitting on the 7:45 regional train to Boston right now, leaving New York after three and a half years of constant motion inside it. Moving dorm rooms and then apartments, getting every internship that would have me, trying to find out what the hell to do with myself. I’ve grown resentful of this city over the past few months, what with a six floor walk-up and having the cutest little dog that just wants to run in some grass already. But I grew up so much here, and even though I really feel ready for the “next phase” or whatever, New York City never let me quit working.

Broadway subway stop photo found on Tumblr here.
Subway photo found on Tumblr here.

At first it was the endless search of figuring out how I was going to turn an overpriced degree into a career that didn’t kill me. Once I found out that my brain can’t handle math, I tried psychology, computer science, and finally journalism. New York was the perfect place for it – there’s always something interesting going on that makes a good story for even the worst journalism student. It forced me to talk to people when I felt awkward and didn’t want to bother them. It taught me to be outgoing in a more professional way. But at NYU, journalism is not a sufficient enough major on its own – everyone has to double-major, presumably about what it is you want to write about. I was so relieved to have found one major I liked, so when time came to pick a second, I chose more freely, something I had always thought should be a hobby instead of what seemed the most “professional” or useful in the job market.

I chose art history, because art is beautiful and infinite and I don’t think that what I have to say is important enough to make it myself. But if I could share it with people, get people looking and thinking and talking, those people might be a little happier with their minds a little more open. Journalism is about this kind of sharing, about breaking things down so that people can actually understand them. After taking a couple of art history classes, it really seemed like that whole arena could use some simplifying. New York is perfect for studying art too – I’d give my left hand to live on Museum Mile. But the kind of artworks I love most were created by artists that are still around, that can still share why they did what, because once they’re gone it’s just an annoying guessing game that people like to call art history instead.

So I went to gallery openings and met and talked with people, but so much of the art is about nothing – white canvases and blurry photographs that everyone is still so uppity about because they “evoke timelessness” or “convey expressive meanings,” but really they just took two seconds to make. Slowly I’m finding people who share this love of thoughtful, skilled art, but I really think it’s something that everyone can appreciate; a kind of aesthetic interest that everyone should have their own tastes in, just like music or movies.

Art is exclusive because if you think it’s bad, you just don’t “get it,” but some of the works in museums actually are bad – they’re piles of candy on the floor or bags of trash. But art that took time and looks pretty or at least interesting – you can be a teacher or a salesman or a cashier and still appreciate it enough to get something from it, even if it’s just a reprieve from your own surroundings into a world with less limitation.

Coke Ad Santa found here.

But now I’m leaving the city, off to Boston to be with my boys. The MFA is my favorite museum but I know I’ll still miss all the options and openings of contemporary works on the west side. But going to a smaller place just means more focus on what is there. So any tips on galleries or Boston artists would be greatly appreciated! And if you live in Boston, you’ll be able to find my writing on new exhibits in Artscope Magazine, where I’m interning in the spring!

Happy Holidays y’all!