Lets say it's Friday night, no, early Saturday morning. You're out. Out in the coolest neighborhood in the coolest city in the world: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, New York.
You're at some trendy bar or nightclub and you're talking to a cute girl, maybe she's 22,23 years old, and she's talking about how she loves New York, and loves Brooklyn, and loves her cute little cat named Mr. Bojangles.
Then you ask her where she's from and she says, Brooklyn. No hesitation, no consideration. She knows she's from Brooklyn.
Then you ask her what high school she went to. This time she stops to think, she stutters, and finally,
That girl is not from Brooklyn. She's not from New York.
But who is from New York?
Every year, thousands of people move to New York City. They live here, they work here, they pay taxes here. But, they're not "from" here. Unlike most other places in the world, there is a certain pride in being "from" New York City. It matters, so you can just move into a studio apartment, unpack a cardboard box and start calling yourself a New Yorker. It needs to be earned. This much, most people can agree on.
At what point you earn it? That's not so clear.
Some people think like that old lady from Jaws, if you weren't born here, you're not from here. Not ever!
Now, while this answer is simple, it creates quite a few problems.
- What about people from other countries?
- What about people who moved to the city as young children?
- What about people born in NYC but don't live there anymore?
Long story short, this answer helps to blow up native New Yorkers' egos triple-size but it doesn't make much sense.
You're a New Yorker after you've lived here for X amount of time.
I like this one, at some point you just have to draw the line. But where is that line? 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? It's too subjective.
You're a New Yorker if you have a baby that's a New Yorker or you married someone that is a NATIVE New Yorker.
I have no problem with either of these. The only caveat is that you need to self identify as a New Yorker. So if your hubby is from Astoria but you always introduce yourself as a small town gal in the big city... you might not be a New Yorker. Which leads us to our next requirement.
You're a New Yorker if you have never lived anywhere else in the U.S.A. and you self identify as a New Yorker and ONLY a New Yorker.
A lot of first generation immigrants like to call themselves New Yorkers but then still have their native country's flag plastered to the side of their minivan. Having pride in your heritage is fine, but New Yorkers are all or nothing type of people. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
So who is a New Yorker? Are you a New Yorker? Am I a New Yorker? Probably not, yet. I still usually explain where I'm from by saying "Live in Brooklyn, originally Connecticut." But if I was on Wheel of Fortune I'd tell Pat I was from Brooklyn and if I rescued a kitten from a burning building the New York Post headline would be "Brooklyn Man Saves Burning Pussy."
There are a lot of different ways you can slice it. But whether or not you go with original or Sicilian just remember the variety is the beauty of it. One of the best things about New York City is that there's so many people from so many places. Dozens of cultures all rolled up into one super culture. Everybody is completely different from the person next to them on the train, but they're all New Yorkers.
Now, what d'you think, this side walk was made for you? Get outta the way!