New Yorkers have a tendency toward superiority. This you know.
We are at the epicenter of culture. We know the latest music because it is born and raised in our venues; we know the latest food trends because we are eating them in the hottest new restaurants; we know the latest fashions because we saw them at Fashion Week and every day on the streets, here, in the Mecca of all that is new and stylish and experimental.
So please excuse us if we become bored and patronizing when we visit elsewhere.
This was me this weekend, when I took the train down to Charlottesville, where a dear sorority sister attends law school. I seriously can’t complain–it was a fun weekend. I met some really nice people, ate some good food (including homemade chili, yum), and just generally relaxed. (Isn’t relaxing the sole purpose of any trip outside of NYC?)
And yet, I had to keep tamping down the voice in my head that was saying, “Alden, you are so over all of this.” That voice nagged at me when a girl at dinner ordered herself a whole bottle of rosé with the intent to drink it herself. I remember that ostentatious self-destructive trait that ran through my college years. It’s a sort of finger to propriety and convention, served with a vicious laugh, challenging anyone to look at you askance. You get over it pretty quickly once you are in the real world, because it’s dumb and not cool at all.
Again, when we pre-gamed at an off-campus house, the voice nagged. We set ourselves up on a beer pong table, and I fought the urge to run over to the laptop where the guy in charge of music was subjecting us to banal rap music from the aughts. He played a rather good remix of Rolling in the Deep, but all the girls grimaced, asking what the hell it was. So much for experimentation.
Then we moved on to the main event, a themed party called Salute Your Jorts. That’s right, everyone was to wear jorts. Some people embraced the theme as a call to looking like a redneck, with booty shorts, cowboy boots and plaid button downs. But my sorority sister and I wore them un-ironically, with black tights, boots, and nice tops. This is an outfit I wear normally in NYC, and I wanted to demonstrate how it could be done and look hot.
It was your run-of-the-mill basement party. We got mud all over our shoes from walking through the back yard to get in, drank crappy beer from a keg, and danced to rap music I hadn’t heard since sophomore year of college. I do remember when I thought parties like this, where students crowded into basements, was the coolest thing ever. No more.
Near the end of the night, I looked to my left and witnessed a girl with her leg wrapped around her dancing partners waist, her jorts barely covering her ass. Then she dropped the leg and turned around to bend over in front of the guy, presenting her ass to him like a raunchy gift. “I just thought …” I said to my friend, “I just thought that law school students would be a little more mature.”
I said this a few times during the weekend, and each time it elicited laughter and a big fat, “Nope.” These students had gone straight from college to law school. When exactly would they have learned to appreciate sitting at a nice bar, drinking a delicious mixed cocktail and sharing debate and excitement over an event, book, magazine article, or career move?
I’m not alone in this sentiment. My friend’s boyfriend has been accused of being too cynical and superior. That’s because he grew up on the Upper East Side.
At around two in the morning, I sat on a couch, waiting for my friend to be done in the bathroom. (A fratty, gross bathroom that was out of toilet paper and had a line of girls waiting outside.) I looked up and was struck by a girl standing in the foyer. She had on jorts and black tights over her long legs, but also a perfect chambray shirt, and flat, ankle-high black suede shoes. Her wrists clanked with bracelets. She had long blond hair with her dark roots showing, that flowed down to her waist in casual waves. In short, she was a New York girl. I could recognize her immediately. She was cool without trying, and I was jealous. I could never do what she does. I’m too short, for one, but I’m also too earnest about what I wear. I like things neat and tidy, fitted, classic and perfect.
I wish I had brought my camera out so I could show you what I mean, but I’ve decided to make it a policy not to bring the big, expensive thing with me when I plan on drinking a lot.
I will say one thing: Virginia law school boys are hot, in their clean-cut way. I’m sure they would be boring to me (I tend to go for the artsy types) but they look so good. Look at these handsome boys!
The next morning we had a late brunch, and by the time we left, fat flakes were falling from the sky.
We retreated to my friend’s apartment to watch bad romantic comedies, eat chili and play cards. Again, I haven’t watched a bad romantic comedy in a while, but why not? Let’s just make my regression into college years complete. The other New Yorker in the room snorted and sighed in derision through the whole thing.
The next morning when I waited on the platform for the train back to NYC, I saw her, the New York girl. She was wearing jeans, brown supple leather boots and a chunky sweater. She was hugging her handsome law school boyfriend goodbye.
Sometimes I think of the experience of immigrants from other countries. They don’t ever feel entirely at home in the U.S., but they can’t go back home either. I feel like that sometimes. I’m not perfect for New York, but I can’t go back home. I would be too bored.