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Humble Me All You Want

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

I had a harder time figuring out what to write about my second month in New York City. There were lots of highs and some lows, but mostly I couldn’t get down to what was happening in my soul. I knew something was there, but it took a few extra days to work its way into my mind and onto this screen, so here’s what I have to offer-

This is what I’m learning in my second month of living here: If you stick around long enough, everything about New York City will humble you.

Let me start by admitting my immune system has been humbled by New York City. Two months in and I already have been sick multiple times, my roommate and I seemingly trade off sicknesses and we’ve just now reached a point in our house where we have entered multiple weeks without one of us being sick. Big win!!

The weather humbles me. Similar to how the humid, summer heat neglects the fact that I had to lug entire life up and down multiple flights of stairs in a non-AC building, the rain and chill of fall and winter settling in doesn’t seem to mind if it starts downpouring on my 20 minute walk home, and of course no, I didn’t think to pack the umbrella.

The people humble me, and quickly at that. I’m always moving too slow, in the way or not entering, exiting, standing, or just basically existing in the right way on the subway (included in this experience is standing chest to chest in a packed subway car with the person who just told me off for another three stops).

The cost of living humbles me. Subwaying to Trader Joe’s, plus a good 1-2 mile walk to and from the subway in total with two full stuffed grocery bags is a non-negotiable because to shop at anything local will literally cost double. A nice meal and a drink out with a friend to celebrate Friday night? Automatically $50 down- and that’s on the cheaper end.

In search of tightening the budget, I’ve started exploring new options. Instead of the wash n’fold (where I drop my laundry off, they wash, dry and fold it for me to pick up the next day), I’ve tried the self service laundry mat, where let’s just put it simply, the owner greatly resented the fact that I was breathing inside the confines of their business. Let alone actually trying to do my laundry.

I’m humbled by the fact that even in the midst of living in my actual dream life - actively walking in prayers that I’ve prayed for years, I have days where you feel overwhelmed beyond my capacity to fully enjoy where I’m at.

I’m starting to see what Sinatra meant when he said, “If you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere”. I used to think that was just for the artists, the actors dreaming of their start and fame, but now I see how it applies to the average, everyday person too. New York City is a hard place to live. I now see a different message in those lyrics- if you can live life here: get to the grocery store, figure out the subway, walk miles upon miles, and still have money for a slice of pizza on a Sunday afternoon, with a bit of your insanity intact -you can probably do life anywhere.

However, before you think this post is just a reveal of my rose colored glasses coming off, I’m not done- there’s another way the city humbles me.

I am humbled by the sights I see on a daily basis. The pre-war architecture that stands as a testament to time and beauty on each individual building on my street (plus the elaborate display of Halloween decorations in October made my heart swoon). The absolute stunning show of green leaves turning yellow, then orange and then red in a perfect display of fall foliage makes life feel like a Rob Reiner film.

Taking in Broadway shows and being humbled that so many talented people can exist in one place.

Existing 36 floors up with panoramic views of Manhattan as I work, humbled by the fact that I spent years of my life looking up at buildings that I never dreamed I’d have the privilege of working inside of.

The food. Oh the food humbles me as well. The ramen, the lebanese hole in the wall, the fresh, handmade pasta, the crisp and flavoral piece of true NY pizza, the BEC bagel, the bechamel cheese appetizer at Quality Eats, the Chelsea soup dumplings on Halloween night (even if they did mess up my stomach), the old fashioned from an underground speakeasy, the authentic German sausage in a 100 year old tavern, all this within reach of me, within miles of me.

The most humbling experience so far? Watching the New York City Marathon. This day felt like an early Christmas holiday. Everyone came out, signs and cowbells in hand to line the streets of the entire marathon route throughout the five boroughs.

I am humbled by the incredible runners and the display of endurance. I am humbled as I watch people cheer for strangers. I am humbled as I watch people cheer for their friends and family, walking every which way across to be at different parts of the routes, standing on the side of the road for a split second as the runner passes. As quick as the runner waves hi, or grabs a quick hug, they are gone and their fans are off to the next spot.

It’s the marathon that shows me this - the journey of being humbled day in and day out is about accepting something in all the different ways it comes. There are days when you are running down the last two mile stretch of the marathon and Central Park South is lined with spectators, you are humbled by life, beauty, and purpose. Then, there are the days when you are running across the Queensboro Bridge (one of the least fun parts from what I’ve heard) where you’re in the thick of it, the incline is steep, the mileage ahead is still long and no ones there to cheer you on, and you are humbled by the fact that the race is absolutely kicking your butt.

I think about this as I am inspired to go for a run the day after the marathon. Tracing along parts of the leftover marathon path in Central Park, a bike buggy pedals across my path, blasting the Friends theme song, pulling giddy tourists enjoying their moment in Central park and in a singular moment the emotion that my soul has been feeling this past month finally makes itself known - I am so humbled to be such a small part of this great city.

I get to live here, I get this city, everyday, all of it, the good and the hard. Despite the reality hitting this month, the fact that I call this city home humbles me everyday. Heading home from my run, I feel such joy and slight smugness in the fact that unlike those tourists, my days in New York are not numbered, they are endless. When I board a plane I’m no longer leaving the city I’ve dreamed of calling home for so long, I’m leaving home, with a return ticket in hand as a promise to this city - humble me all you want, I’ll still be forever yours.

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