Wow, I thought, as I stirred my coffee at 6:10 am on this Saturday morning…I chuckled, thinking how I’ve changed so drastically over the past two years. Was it REALLY 6 am when I got up on a SATURDAY? But I smiled. I love the peace of the morning, a cool breeze coming through my back deck door and silence in my house. No TV. Just me, my laptop and coffee.
Four years ago, I moved to New York (Long Island) one week after my 30th birthday. Mind you, I moved here from Boston, which was a really cool city in which to wrap up my 20s. One would think that 30 would turn a more mature corner for me, or I’d slow down. However, New York will not allow that….I learned to make friends through my sport, volleyball. So as soon as I moved here, I met a well connected player and he connected me to many, many people — turned friends, immediately. Life was good, my transition to New York was easier than Boston. However, I had to become comfortable with my new friends, so I socialized at every chance I could get. Little did I know that the adults on Long Island will party like it’s their 21st birthday on any given night. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday…doesn’t matter. And so it began, Lesson #1…
Lesson #1: New Yorkers are nuts at any age. Not just in NYC, but on Long Island too. My friends were primarily all in the 30 – 37 years old age range. Bars are open until 4 am, and one should plan on being out that late with a New Yorker — and then afterwards, plan on going to the 24 Hour Bagel shop for a bagel (yucky, dry, compressed bread in my opinion). There was a time I was angry about going to the bagel shop, I didn’t want a bagel but I was hungry. I believe I hailed a cab and told my friends I wanted to go eat my couscous and peas. (I’m known to be a bit odd with certain things, yes). The late night eating never helped me achieve fitness goals, by the way.
(Temporary) Lesson #2: Get your workouts in during the week. I used to cram in 4 workouts during the weekdays just in time to prepare for my weekend of imbibing and recovery. This was not a good strategy. 2 years into living in NY, my body took a hit. I had gained a solid 10 pounds and I felt sluggish and mentally unhappy. I hit the wall; I’m not a New Yorker…I’m from backwoods PA, this lifestyle was not something I could sustain, nor did I want to. I was 32, single and my body was bloated, tired and struggling.
Lesson #3: Don’t force a passion in an environment it doesn’t belong. I desperately wanted to keep riding my mountain bike when I moved to New York. I had recently just gotten back in the saddle in Boston before I moved. Long Island is not really the ideal mountain biking terrain. Yes, there are some trails and one local MTB Club, but it just isn’t the same here. I’m never going to train on my road bike during the week, I’m terrified to ride on the roads here! Cars everywhere, not paying attention to anything — no thank you. I know that when I leave New York, I can ride again if I so desire. For now, I will continue to play volleyball for fun. There are beaches here and all.
Lesson #4: Traffic causes stress, which makes my cortisol level store more fat. Okay, so I’m pretending that’s my excuse for any excess lard. But I couldn’t blog about New York without mentioning traffic. My first week of work, I realized I had to give myself 1.5 – 2 hours to go 25 miles from Long Island to New Jersey. Where in theory, 25 miles might take 30 – 40 minutes anywhere else. Sometimes less. I still haven’t learned to manage my traffic-rage and outbursts. It’s something I haven’t gotten used to in 4 years. There is no predicting it around rush hour, it’s all day, everyday. Which is quite maddening!
However, I will say that no matter where I end up living over the next couple of years, I will be fearless. Once you figure out and conquer the New York lifestyle and even learn to navigate NYC itself — no city will intimidate you ever again. I have loved my journey in New York and I even found myself a pretty good guy here too. It isn’t all negative. Nonetheless, I learned to appreciate my non-hungover mornings. I feel refreshed from a solid 8 hours of sleep, I take my walks, drink my coffee and reflect back on life. I’ve lived it to its fullest for sure. And I will continue to do so, just in a much more healthy manner!