An Unfiltered List of Things I Miss About New York
I never could have dreamed of the mental challenges this move would bring—how I could feel so absolutely torn between two places. “Follow your heart,” they say, but my heart is truly divided in two. There are so many things that frustrate the hell out of me about America, and Italy alike, but lately the distance to New York has felt like the distance to Mars.
I’d like to take you with me on a journey through the various sporadic, unspecific, and quite random things that I miss so deeply about New York. Warning: this is an unfiltered , spastic expression of thoughts and emotions.
A lot of the things I miss are, surprisingly… food. Sweet jesus I’ve never thought about a peanut butter jelly sandwich in my life as much as I have in the past month. Why does the land of spaghetti not have spaghetti squash?? My mom offered to send some (lol) but of course Italy would charge me around 60€ alone to just receive the package. Because…Italy….
SWEET POTATOES are a hot commodity in my train of thought. I can occasionally find them in some different restaurants around my job. I feel like a fein around them, and probably come off a bit wild when my eyes widen and nearly swell with tears when I ask for verbal confirmation, “AVETE PATATE DOLCE AMERICANE???” (YOU HAVE SWEET POTATOES???) To my next point…DIVERSITY amongst restaurants. Don’t get me wrong here…you all know how much I LOVE pasta. I don’t love that any restaurant that serves vegetables is considered “strange" or “particular.” Once I asked for a side plate of grilled vegetables at a restaurant and they told me they only have potatoes…and no, not the sweet ones. Oh, how New York is decorated head-to-toe in every culture, cuisine, and experience you could ever imagine. It opens my eyes to how fortunate I am for having experienced other cuisines…so much so that I don’t consider vegetables strange (WHAT A CONCEPT). I’m also living in a part of Italy where they think ‘keeping it light’ is eating risotto made with brown rice instead of white..or a filetto fried in olive oil instead of butter. Someone please give me a megaphone to parade around town screaming: “Hey, it doesn’t work like that.”
I miss casual cursing. In New York, you could tell when someone isn’t from there because they don’t throw random curse words into polite sentences. I agree that, to an extent, it does sound vulgar…but I gotta let it out sometimes, ya know? In Italy, it is absolutely frowned upon for women to blurt out curse words…or like speak their minds in general. Instead, I have adapted “Kimmy Schmidt” cursing: saying things like, “Could you please pass me the… fudging Parmigiano? Thank you.”
I’m trying not to get myself too hyped up on the whole sexism & racism problem in Italy that they think doesn’t exist. Pretty much when I’m having a conversation with a friend about how I admire Italian woman for being so confident, and they respond with something like, “Yeah, but they are just too confident.” I can physically feel my brain shouting, “WHLIUHSNIUHOAISUAHKJNKJSHKDJSHJ HAISHAIOSU GFISJNDISUHDI ????????????” Or the frequent, casual comments about how women are inferior to men because we are such delicate creatures. It’s great. What’s also great? The BLATANT racism that happens on a daily basis that, when I bring to their attention they respond with, “We can say these things because we don’t have the same immigration problems as America.” Uhm, yes…yes you do. And even in my own friend group, I can have the most calm and informative discussion about such topics and they unfortunately don’t see how messed up it actually is. I’ve been told (a few) times that I come off aggressive when discussing these issues because I’m really passionate about everyone being treated as an equal. What also blows my mind is how racist Northern Italians still are towards southern Italians. For this, I miss how everyone in New York is exactly who they want to be, and don’t feel ashamed for it. I love Italy for the old country it is in so so many ways; However on the topics of racial and gender equality, they are very far behind.
I really miss live music, dancing, jazz, BURLESQUE, and the speakeasy culture in NYC that essentially helped shape me into the woman I am today, and blessed me with the most incredible memories I will take with me for the rest of my life. I always think back to how my best friend and I would go out for dinner or something really chill, and end up in the back of a van digging through vintage playboys. Or how many train stops we could get off at to run around and explore our city. How a casual night out always turned into discovering the secret bars down an alley underneath an apartment building, petting the velvet walls, drinking cocktails out of teacups, and cackling like hyenas until 5 am. Or how we The House of Yes became our stage for deep conversations all while maintaining our expressive dance moves. The late night concerts we would give people on the train platforms—singing inappropriate lyrics with a smooth jazzy tune. The empty train cars: our jungle gym. Accidentally making eye contact with the homeless person jerking off of the train car you thought was empty. Quickly running off the train. The fried gust of wind of Coney Island. Bones of fried chicken, corn on the cob, and a little sand in between our toes.
In Italy, people listen to music like they’re at a lecture or dance to the same era of music at every event. And no, not even poppin’ 60s-80s. No—I’m talkin’ late 90s early 2000s on loop in ever bar at every public event and in every household. help.
Crying in public is something that’s almost applauded in NYC. New Yorkers, without fail, unite in moments of distress. It’s an indescribable feeling. Like when your sweet little mom faints on the train car and ten strangers jump to help her. Nurses, doctors, chefs, accountants, circus performers, alike all searching to help someone in need. In New York, one of the most belittling feelings is that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do…but in the same breath it’s the most empowering feeling because you can just be you.
As you can tell, I’m dawdling into the thing I miss the most—the unit of individuals who keep me going. Who support me and love me unconditionally. The people that through all of life’s challenges remind me that the sun still shines above the clouds. I’ve pathetically created scenarios in my head where my parents surprise me at work, and I get to feel their warm hugs again. It makes me wonder if all of the places and things I miss about New York are really those things, or just the people I experienced them with. Being here has made me realize how much I’ve seen and experienced already at my age, which makes it difficult to relate to people, but I still put myself out there as much as I can…perhaps in an effort to create similar relationships in Italy like I have in the US. Yes, I miss the fudge out of my family. So fudging much it hurts.
Next time you see Davide please shake his hand or hug him for being so positive and supportive, and keeping me up in these difficult moments.