New York City Tip #3: Learn to Live Seasonally

Some people are more deeply in tune with seasonality than others. I’m not sure if that personality trait is a pro or con, just merely a fact. Another point worth observing: To live in New York City you must be able to cope with the weather—like a farmer during the Dust Bowl, like Noah and his flood. The elements will dictate your comfort level and you are bequeathed no amount of control.

I am summer.

I am the pesky ray of light that creeps through your blinds each morning. I am the sticky, humid air that affixes to your every pore. I am the burst of excitement or despair that can command your mood—as bright as a blue morning and as gray as a stormy afternoon. My summer fairies and I are full of undying energy come June, likely to buzz fiercely through October without a moment of true rest. We are addicting, we are quick-thinking, fast-footed creatures who pound, pound, pound the pavement all day and play all night, drinking in the warm weather like some life-giving elixir.

And then it stops.

Like the leaves on fall’s vibrant trees, we wilt away into a self-inflicted hibernation. And a new group takes the lead, with their love of all things autumn: the calmer pace, the cinnamon-filled serene days, the crisp air. Of course these traits can be enjoyable—but as a celebrator of summer, they're only a reminder that winter is soon to come.

Now as someone with such an acute bias, it's important for me to take a step back in my description of seasons. I have two arguments to make: The most important point I can present is that each group of months bestows something attractive, be it bathing suit-clad strolls by the lake or fireside chats with Manhattans and marshmallows. But my second argument is that city dwellers (in this case, New Yorkers) have another level of appreciation and resentment for Mother Nature’s iron fist. When I moved to this bustling metropolis, I wish someone had explained to my bewildered and ambitious little soul that what I understood of snow and stifling heat was simply not enough. 


“It’s only 3 flights up,” I told my father and mother. They were carrying a wooden bookcase through the entrance of a pre-war building in Queens. The August humidity had us wilting into pools of our own sweat. It was over 100 degrees, and only a small fan in the corner of the apartment produced any semblance of a slight breeze. My body had not yet adapted to a life without central AC and I remember plopping onto the couch, dehydrated to the point of seeing spots.  

I slept on top of my sheets that night, bought cockroach traps five days later, and learned to appreciate cold showers three weeks into my new adventure.  

“I won’t be able to get into the city tomorrow.” I sent this message to my editor at the Huffington Post. It was October of 2012 and Superstorm Sandy was making her way up the East Coast, seemingly headed straight for New York. The city was shutting down the entire subway system so I'd need to work from home—unless I wanted to sleep at the office, which, people did do. But those people were making more than $10 an hour.

Autumn had been (and typically is) quite mild. Most were not prepared for the intense flooding that would accompany Halloween. The storm overtook our little island, and I watched from my rooftop in Queens as the lights of lower Manhattan suddenly went out. Nature was reminding us who was in control.

“I’m wa-wa-walking to work. I’ll call you later,” I said through chattering teeth to my mother. It was too cold to have a pleasant conversation outside. My weather defense system consisted of a down jacket to my knees, boots, two pairs of socks, tights under my jeans, a t-shirt under my sweater, gloves, a wool scarf, and a fur-trimmed hood. Only my eyes peeked out from this strange uniform. At the time I was interning for Martha Stewart Living. Her pristine all-white offices were located 15 minutes from the train, on the edge of the Hudson River. Three mornings a week, I walked into the biting wind with a PB&J in my hand and broken blood vessels sprinkled across my cheeks. I was given a $25 lunch stipend each Monday; no pay.  

Up to this point I’ve neglected to mention evasive spring, with its fickle spirit of rebirth. All I can remember about this season in New York is the immense amount of rain, the hot days that turn into freezing nights, and then, finally, the two weeks of tulips. For a period of about 14 days our city is sunny perfection. Fifth Avenue and Central Park are filled with thousands of bright flowers. Tulips are placed on every plausible patch of green, and the cherry blossoms burst all over Brooklyn.

Then suddenly summer is back.
And we’ve made it another year.

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass