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October in New York

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I stayed in New York City for the month of October (give or take a week). I have a few reflections.

What I talk about when I talk about running in New York

To stay in shape during my visit, I ran. At first, I ran because it was the only affordable thing in the city. Then I ran because it is incredibly flat – a special luxury to a Vancouverite. Then, and most frequently, I ran because I got to experience the city’s inimitable architecture.

Everything in NY carries a distinct weight of self-importance. The city’s buildings exemplify this, and as someone who knows virtually nothing about architecture, its draw was even headier. As I ran through the streets, I couldn’t help but wonder at every building: is that building famous for something? Did something historic happen there? Who is it that made so much money that they live there?

This sensation was reflected back to me later in my trip. The Whitney showed the work of Edward Hopper. His widely celebrated art showed that people have been staring curiously into the homes and lives of other New Yorkers for generations.

If I ran far enough, I got to experience the many minds of NY architecture. Unlike Vancouver, a city with a singular, glass-tinted perspective on what great architecture should be, New York spills forth with ideas. In one run, I could pass by buildings styled Gothic, Art Deco, our Greenwich home’s Georgian, and an aesthetic that can only be described as landed-spaceship.

However, one of the victories of NY is that unlike a city like Barcelona, its disparate styles feel part of a cohesive whole. Each neighbourhood maintains its distinct vibe despite the city’s generally experimental development culture. In reading a bit about their city planners, this is no accident.

Haruki Murakami calls running a “cozy homemade void.” In running around the city, I was able to welcome a much wider net of inspiration into my void.


Even when I wasn’t running, I was struck by how easy it was to get around New York.

The transit system was well-organized, constantly running, and rarely over-full. The Lyft rental bike stations were everywhere and bike lanes were easy to note. And it remains, of course, immensely walkable.

The result is a city that feels vast but reachable. Although we stayed in Greenwich, where we could easily have never left, we regularly went to other parts of the city.

When a city is traversable like, this, it becomes more open, and I become more open.

In Vancouver (sorry Vancouver, as my main comparison point, I’m going to keep shitting on you), every neighbourhood feels like a day trip to get to, so I rarely leave Mt Pleasant. In NY, we felt like we could pop over to another neighbourhood on a whim. The scope of our day to day life felt a little larger. I found myself trying out different WeWorks across the city for work and different gyms for exercise, despite my historic hate for commuting.

New York’s accessibility didn’t stop at transit, however. It extended to culture as well.

What does it mean to be cultured?

It is often described as a trait. Something that you are once you’ve done it. Something I aspire to. But not a verb, not a state that’s easy to access through a series of steps.

In New York, I didn’t become Cultured. However, I did access cultural works in a way I can’t claim I do at home.

What struck me is just how easy it was to access culture in New York. Most of the time, we would plan something with less than a week’s notice for tickets that were less than 50 bucks.

It really blew me away just how easy it was to access great culture. There was just so much of it! NY may be hyper-populated, but its cultural infrastructure is large enough that its individual events don’t feel overstuffed.

It’s tempting to wonder if I was just so impressed with all this city infrastructure because I was a glossy-eyed visitor. Obviously, not everyone loves the subway. But I think the feeling of ease in accessing places and things would last long after the the jadedness sets in.

Underdeveloped Expectations

Ostensibly, I was in New York on business. I had a list of clients to meet and goals for generating new clients.

Ostensibly, it was not a success. I didn’t close any new clients. I was able to meet just 2 of the 5 clients I sought out to meet, and in those 2 meetings, we talked about virtually no business.

However, I was pleasantly surprised with the business outcomes in more quiet ways.

Although I didn’t talk business with my clients, shortly after meeting with each of them, they agreed to expanded scope in conversations with the rest of my team. My in-person presence may have indirectly supported this, even if I did very little directly. I spent virtually every day with my friend and fellow agency owner, Tonner, which in addition to being a nice change of pace, gave me a sounding board and new insight into my business. By working on EST, I also got to get ahead of my day most days, allowing me to work extremely reasonable hours (more time for culture).

Similarly, I was in New York to take in the best it had to offer. I had a list of restaurants and experiences in mind.

Similarly, it was ostensibly not a success. Many of the most-hyped restaurants we went to — Sant Ambroeus, Via Carota, Charlie Bird — weren’t great, especially relative to price. We didn’t get into Carbone. I had designs on a massive NY warehouse Halloween party, and we got stuck on the waitlist.

However, just like the business outcomes, I was pleasantly surprised with some of our more humble plans.

Some of the best food (ever, not just in NY) was from more unexpected, casual places: Supper, Westside Market, Miss Ada, a pizza place called “Pizza”. And although our Halloween (and most of our nights out, to be honest) was a comedy of errors, I have indelible memories of me high on mushrooms spooking 21-year-olds in my wizard ghillie suit and our crew taking over a weirdly deserted Soho bar at 2am.

This is one way in which New York is indeed like any other place: you’re better off focusing on the little things.

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