Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Where everybody knows your name...

I'm on a first-name basis with Abraham, the man who works at the 24-hour bodega on my block. He gives me relationship advice (and a free mini Toblerone once). I exchange daily waives with the ladies at the nail salon down the street. They ask to see pictures of my new niece. And last week the barista at the Starbucks near work actually remembered my usual order. This can only mean one thing (well, other than confirmation I'm spending way too much on manicures and lattes): I'm a New Yorker, a real one. It happened. Orange to apple.

I'll celebrate the two year anniversary of my move to New York in a couple weeks. So, naturally, I'm tempted to take a wistful look back.

During my first lonely weeks here two years ago, I would have paid big bucks for the man at my neighborhood bodega to remember my name, let alone keep the freezer section stocked with Ben & Jerry's Half-Baked Fro Yo (guilty). I can remember Saturday afternoons when I would literally walk slump-shouldered down the East Village, staring enviously at restaurant tables stuffed with groups of friends brunching, laughing, planning fabulous group activities. It was weird. I was sad and lonely and jealous of groups of strangers. I missed my friends.

This city can be painfully anonymous. But last week after the Starbucks man smiled and yelled "tall soy latte" before I said anything at the counter, and a couple weeks ago when Abraham asked if I missed my ex-boyfriend who moved to Colorado, the city felt anything but anonymous. It took me a hot second, but I think I've finally carved out a life, a wedge in this apple where everybody knows my name (and they're always glad you came...) It's my city too.

I can sincerely say that these days I'm pretty much in love with New York. It's a romance that took time and effort. It took patience and sense of humor. Because you can't really love or even like it here until you feel loved by the people here.

Happy Anniversary.


  1. Well done, Banessa. I'm coming up on my three year anniversary in D.C., and while I have plenty of friends these days (most of them from UF), I'm not a regular anywhere. No one knows my name. Of course, I guess that's what happens when you live in the 'burbs.

  2. Everyone knows your name in Tampa too, and we miss seeing your face (don't forget us)! BUT I am so happy that NYC realizes just how lucky they are to have you.