As someone who grew up in New York City (Manhattan, actually) and has lived here ever since — except for my four years in Hanover, of course — I’m an expert on city life, by which I mean New York City life. Having grown up taking the subway to school and buying sandwiches at bodegas, there’s one kind of life I understand, and only one, and as far as I’m concerned any other kind of life can be classified in one simple way: suburban.
What’s that you say? You grew up in a town in rural Western Massachusetts with one stop light and the closest “city” was an hour away, and it was Albany? There were only two bars and they were across the street from each other and the only grocery store was an organic food co-op? The population of your hometown is only 6,000 but there are two visible cults? It sounds like it sure was nice growing up in the Boston suburbs.
How about you? Oh wow — you were raised on a farm in rural North Dakota and had to drive 30 miles just to get to a paved road? You went to school in a small barn with only six kids, all from other farms, and didn’t see a skyscraper until you went to college at age 18? It must have been just incredible to live in such a quaint suburb of Canada.
And where are you from? A glacial island floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? You didn’t meet a single person you weren’t related to until the island started to sink and you had to be evacuated onto the mainland when you were 20-years-old? Now you love processed food because all you had to eat as a kid was ice stewed with reindeer bones? Wow — it sounds so interesting to grow up in a suburb of Antarctica!
Huh? You’re from Los Angeles? You grew up in the heart of the city, right downtown in the middle of all those skyscrapers and homeless people? You took the bus everywhere an went to a high school with a graduating class of 3,000 and still don’t have a driver’s license because you never had to drive anywhere because you lived in what felt like the center of the universe? It must have been so cool to be raised in a suburb of Los Angeles, which is itself a suburb of California, which is a suburb of the United States of America, which is a suburb of New York City.
Excuse me, you’re from the country, you say? Well, as a New York City kid, I know the country, and it’s called Larchmont. If you want to experience rural life, hop on the Metro North at Grand Central and ride it for a full 35 minutes. Get off and walk past the mansions until you reach the center village, where you can pick up some authentic rural New York fro-yo at a little place called Red Mango. Take a seat outside on the main drag and watch the stockbrokers zoom by in their Mercedes en route to their boats. Breathe in that just-north-of-the-Bronx country air. Exhale. Ah, rural life at its finest!