How to Be Grateful in NYC

It’s Thanksgiving! While it’s always good to remember Jake Peralta’s astute observation that, “The pilgrims were murderers and turkey tastes like napkins.” it’s also generally a good idea to practice mindful gratitude when you can. Without the side of colonialism.

"The pilgrims were murderers and turkey tastes like napkins." - Jake Peralta, Brooklyn 99
Image: Brooklyn 99, Season 2 Episode 7

Some days it is very hard to feel actively grateful in New York. Some days, you’ve been away from home for 12 hours and just want to stop working, you navigate the labyrinthine station, round the corner for the last set of stairs down to your platform… and walk straight into a huge pile of vomit and a family of rats noshing on it.

Some days, every stranger seems mean or at least indifferent, and you miss the comfort of having your friends and family close to you. Some days the dishwasher and the clothes washer both inexplicably gush gallons of water on the floor. The line at the grocery store wraps around the entire building, and you just want to order takeout and go home, but the heater in your apartment doesn’t turn off so home feels like an actual pit of hell.

My friend Sam, a former New Yorker, once said of her time here, “New York makes people deeply selfish.” I’ve thought about that a lot since moving. I haven’t done a great job of forming new relationships or maintaining the ones I have, beyond Dan and Marcy, and I feel guilty about it constantly. Am I selfish because I don’t schedule more FaceTime calls with my distant friends and coffee hangs with my local friends? But every day, I find myself exhausted in the bone-deep way I was in those gloomy years before I started taking (those sweet, sweet) antidepressants. Too exhausted to do more than get myself to work and back home again. So am I just dealing with a little flare-up of depression brought on by all these major life changes… or has NYC already turned me into an absolute narcissist? I mean, my god, I have started a blog, like, how much more navel gazing could I do??

Either way, it always helps to find very small things to be thankful for in this life. With all that set up out of the way, here it is, a list of things I’m grateful for right here in NYC:

  1. Every day I successfully ride the Subway without being pushed onto the tracks by a passing maniac (my #1 NYC fear) is a day I am grateful for.
  2. Charming curmudgeons is one of my greatest skills in life. Give me an hour with a grump and I guarantee I will win them over. There are so many grouches waiting for me to befriend them in this city! And the last one I met (and charmed, thank you very much) was a colleague and lifelong New Yorker who took me to a little place where I had the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Grateful for that!
  3. Scum Pond (aka The Pool) in Central Park finally lost all of its summer fungi and no longer smells like a pool of rotting flesh. That would have been enough, but the water cleared right as the leaves turned and, um, hello gorgeous, who knew you were waiting to pull an Ugly Duckling on me? (Everyone who’s isn’t experiencing this transformation for the first time probably knew that. #BrandNewYorker)
  4. Speaking of those leaves… I knew East Coast Autumns = Peak Autumns, but living through it day to day has been utterly magical.
  5. Renter’s Insurance, because my Worst Day just will not end.

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