The Real New York City

Photo by  Rob Bye  on  Unsplash

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

Before I moved to the City, my mind filled with ideals reminiscent of a current day Gossip Girl.
My days would include grabbing expensive coffee at the cute local bodega decorated with fresh flowers and ripe fruits. I'd stumble across yet another movie set, roll my eyes at tourists taking pictures and say to myself “just another day in the life.” My weekends would be filled with brunch plans and meeting up with a ton of new friends and we would just laugh, and laugh, and laugh…

Move over Blair! The real Dominican, definitely less privileged, Serena is here to run this city with her TJ Maxx off-brand jeans and dirty worn out Chuck Taylors.

A week within moving to the City and three minutes on the Q train, I quickly realized the only gossip I was going to get was listening to an older Russian lady from Ocean Parkway complain about the 30 cent price raise on Opal apples. That bodega over charges on cheese sticks and smells like asbestos. That coffee costs your yearly salary since it’s made with coffee beans that were once in Midtown and are now in East Village (it’s city coastal and well, you know, organic), and that movie set is causing the L train to run express and completely skip my stop.

Oh and that brunch? I’m working the shift, “What can I get for you to drink?”

My motto for the year 2018 has been: Working Beyonce hours, making Michelle pay. And it’s completely true when trying to survive in the Concrete Jungle.

In this city, the line between the haves and have-nots is thick as hell; you either have money or you’re broke. I don’t know many people with one job in this city, and if so, they live in a “cozy” one bedroom with 8 different people...“but the rent is only $500!”

This is the only place where people justify poverty with the excuse of “Well, this is New York.”  We are all trying to keep up with the Joneses or should I say, the Kardashians, by sleeping in closets and justifying that $250 Equinox membership with “They have Kiehl's products in their bathrooms.” We buy into trends and over pay for drinks while getting our cards declined at Trader Joe’s for basic groceries. They said if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere and that’s because no one ever leaves! The “anywhere” is moving from Harlem to the Lower East Side or Park Slope to Bushwick -  misery loves company.

Like that ex you always drunk text, the Big Apple brings such a love-hate relationship. I complain about how people are always in the way and how dirty everything is, but really, we all take such pride in this city. I can admit, I love it the reactions non- New Yorkers have when you tell them you’re from the City. You get the “oh wow’s” or “you are tough! I could never live there”. People look at you like a unicorn and dammit - I am!  

I’ve survived the guy following me through the subway, back to back Showtime performances on the A train, aggressive homeless men asking me for money and two, yes two, RAT alterations. I have morphed into a short-tempered, easily annoyed, aggressive, non patient person,  but even through it all still have faith in the humility of this shit show of a city.
It’s been a 10+ hour work day and I get on the train to finally head home. It’s 1am and crowded, but not with drunk people obnoxiously laughing and over talking one another. The train is filled  with men and women heading home from their long work days all looking exhausted. I see a man give up his seat to a woman with a baby on her hip. They both smile at one another and after a few minutes start a conversation about the weather. I smile and continue to read my book. It’s these moments of kindness that remind me why I love this hectic, frustrating, expensive city. 

New York is the City that Never Sleeps, but not for the late night pizza shops and 4am bars. It’s culture, famous buildings and lifestyle bring a lot of popularity, but we’re more than just a popular movie scene, celebrities or even The Naked Cowboy. We are a community of hard working people striving for our goals; the girl who works two jobs and interns at 29 for a career in writing (Hi!), the guy who bartends on the weekends while taking 21 credits at Hunter College, and the bodega owner who wakes up at 6am to remind you they don’t take AMEX and about the 2 for 1 water special - and at the end of the day making shit happen.--


Written by Nikki Frias

Nikki is comedy writer living in the non-gentrified portion of Brooklyn. Be sure to check out her website at and follow her blog, “Girl, Tell Me about It” at You can find her avoiding eye contact on the subway or internally judging people who call throwing up “earling”.