This post was contributed by Steven Knollmeyer.
“Ugh, boys suck,” I grunt to myself as I open another cringy dating app on my phone in one hand while holding a very hefty glass of nauseatingly cheap merlot in my other hand after I, yet again, found a way to self-sabotage myself from continuing any potential relationship with an actual nice guy I met the week before.
I’m going to be straight up – I suck at long term dating. Unless you’re my future Hinge date reading this, OF COURSE I’m the “LTR orientated, romantic night in over party night out” guy that I’m sure I listed in my bio after yet again trying to salvage my dating life. The longest relationship I’ve had with another person is a whopping 5 months, and I don’t even think we were exclusive.
There is one romantic relationship, however, that I’ve had for over 6 years now and I think we make it work because we leave it open. My partner is a beast named New York City. New York’s not a man. New York’s not a woman. New York’s a beautifully gilded yet raunchy genderless force to be reckoned with soul who wears a suit to Wall Street in the morning, paints cityscapes on a Brooklyn rooftop in the afternoon, and performs the best lip sync show you’ll ever see at a drag bar past sunset. Don’t get me wrong, New York’s a tough one- they’ve wiped my bank accounts clear, knocked me down to my lowest, spat on my face just when I thought I made it; but New York also made me feel my absolute best, empowered me to push myself to do things I didn’t believe that I could, introduced me to some of the best people I know, and genuinely made me really fucking happy. Is our relationship toxic? Maybe.
Will I always come running back for more? Absolutely.
We’ve established a progressive open relationship that allows our love for each other to continue, but doesn’t limit us [me] to act on some naughty feelings towards other cities. I may hug the coastlines of Cape Town for a few months, sleep with constellations dancing over Perth, or salsa with the Ramblas of Barcelona – but, without a doubt, I will always find myself running back to my ultimate lover, New York.
So while I continue to have love affairs with cities across the globe, why does New York always pull me back? Let’s break it down:
The sky’s the limit:
I gagged in my mouth a bit writing this as it’s such a basic cliche, but there are not many other ways to describe it. New York is the playground of every industry’s finest. Media, fashion, finance, tech, ANY industry – you find it here, and you find the brightest and most ambitious of each field sprinting to this island of Manhattan we call home to be on top. Does this make for a cut-throat culture? Definitely. Does it inspire you to push yourself to be the best you can be? It does for me, at least.
Gateway to the world:
Many cities claim to be the most internationally diverse city, and I’m sure there’s data to back up a lot of these claims, but I have never experienced more glimpses into other cultures than I have while living in New York. I briefly sublet a room in Chinatown some years back, and on my 20-minute walk to work every day at the time I would venture through the first-generation Chinese-American mom and pop shops, smell the fresh cannolis baking in Little Italy, wander the cobblestone streets of SoHo with endless nods to European architecture, and finally arrive at my office in startup central that bled the essence of the classic American Dream.
You can’t walk more than a block without stumbling upon some small doorway to a culture thousands of miles away.
Traveling isn’t a personality trait:
I know, I know – traveling is a huge aspect of my life and who I am as a person, just like you. But isn’t it annoying when you go home after a trip and few to no people can truly relate to what you just experienced and you’re dubbed a “traveler” after just one time abroad? New York is a hub city, some call it the American gateway to Europe, and with that, you can find some killer flight deals to just about any city you want to [*cough* especially if you book through Shut Up and Go here *cough*] so many New Yorkers are constantly traveling abroad. As I’m sure you already know first-hand, traveling can transform people, so being surrounded by people that have had their own traveling adventures instantly creates a physical community around you bred for actual stimulating conversations.
This can be a taboo subject, but let’s dive in. Validation should always be rooted in your self-worth, and this can look different for everyone. There’s a common saying “if you can make it here (NYC), you can make it anywhere” and, for me, I use this as one of my sources of validation. Is it right? Probably not. Would I be lying if I said that I don’t believe in this? Absolutely. I’ve mentioned how hard New York can be- it’s not a city you casually Waltz into with the expectation that you’ll be handed whatever you dream of, even if you deserve it. New York is the definition of a GRIND. Also as I mentioned, the most acclaimed people of every industry are flocking here, so competition is tough and you have to push yourself. This city will stress you out, break you down, and push you to produce all that you can – but the moment that you finally get something you dreamed about, no matter how large or small, you feel on top of the world. Because not only did you do it, you did it in New York F!cking City.
My love letter to my partner, New York, could go on for novels but I’ll stop here for now. I will always fall in love with cities I meet across the world, I’m sure I’ll also fall in love with a person or many along the way, but at the end of the day, I can’t imagine ever having a stronger relationship than my open relationship with New York City.
Meet Steven: Another twenty-something New Yorker that can be found anywhere tacos and bottomless mimosas are served. Keep up with him on IG.