I almost left New York. I almost left New York like 3 times. I almost seriously left New York like 3 different times in the course of a year. In fact, I actually left New York in May with the intention of not coming back for months until an awesome audition beckoned me back like a beautiful siren on the rocks. Between terrible jobs, a rocky relationship, learning a new city, losing my money, losing my mind, an inevitable break-up, and general unhappiness, I was about ready to throw in the towel, move back to the Pacific Northwest, and figure out something else to do with my life. This isn’t what I wanted for my life, I moved here to do what I love, but leaving felt like the only option. How was I going to afford this place? How the fuck was I going to find happiness here? I didn’t know the answers to these questions. I was angry, upset, anxious, and stressed.
And then something changed. I stopped fighting it all. I allowed the circumstances of my life to just be. I’m still finding my peace with this city and like an estranged family member who suddenly comes back into your life without warning; it takes time, but I’m learning to love this city all over again. I feel pretty great lately. After a year and a half (almost. ALMOST.), I’m finally making New York function for me.
Through trial and error, and some helpful advice from people who have weathered the storm of New York City, I’m learning to find what works for me, and what absolutely does not. I want to share that you. So without further ado, here it is
The Brock Bivens Comprehensive, Totally Incomplete, And Continuously Evolving Survival Guide To Leaving Your Life In The Suburbs And Living In New York City.
Find Your Secret Places And Share Them With Other People
This first piece of advice is sadly not a Brock Bivens original, but it is one that I received almost immediately after moving to NYC and it has stuck with me ever since. It was actually given to me by Ellen Lauren of The SITI Company. I had worked with them at Emerson, and asked for any advice on the city when I made the move. Maybe it was the way she put it, “Find your secret places” or maybe it was the dichotomy of having your secrets and then being selfless enough to share them, but her advice is the one that stuck with me.
I can’t emphasize how important this piece of advice is to me. As I write this, I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop in Brooklyn: Bedford Hill. They know my order, they know my name, I know their names. I come here, I sit, and I write for hours because I feel welcome. Strangers may surround me, but I feel connected to the place and the people. There are other coffee shops in the area, some of them are cheaper, and some of them have better coffee, but I return here every single day for the people, the environment, and the feeling.
My other favorite haunt is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. A sprawling haven of nature in the middle of Brooklyn next to Prospect Park. It’s just gorgeous. There is a Japanese Hill and Pond Garden, a Native Flora Garden with plants from the northeast, and a sprawling esplanade with cherry blossoms that are fucking gorgeous in the spring. If you go on the right day, there is no one around. It’s like having a park almost exclusively to yourself. I sometimes sit at the benches that overlook the cherry blossom esplanade and think or write. Sometimes I go read beneath a tree. Other times, I go to the Native Flora Garden and I feel like I’m hiking in Oregon. Needless to say, this is my escape from the city, without leaving the city.
Seriously, this place is magic.
I share these secret places with you, because they aren’t really that secret, they are places anyone can visit, but they are holy to me. I encourage you to share your secret places with someone you love and cherish dearly. If you can’t think of two places in this city that you absolutely adore, then I encourage you to go explore! If you feel so compelled, please share your secret places in the comments below as well. I want to know your secret places, because I want to visit them. I want to
covet collect steal love them. I want to find the magic that you found.
Stay tuned for more (hopefully) weekly survival tips!
Do you have a show? A gallery opening? A performance art exhibition in the Lorimer Subway Station? Let me know, I’d love to interview you about what you’re doing. Contact me in the comments below, or find me @brockbiv.