I’ve been coming across a lot of posts lately that seem to resonate with this article someone sent to me last week, which was a version of this one before that, which wasn’t so different from this blog post I whipped up two years ago, where I cried and cried about how ill-prepared I was for life in the big city no thanks to Carrie and her friends and her men and her shoes and honestly, television, how DARE you fool your simple-minded, well-meaning viewers into believing a shiny, cosmopolitan-fueled existence complete with a walk-in closet is more than just the ideal way to live in Manhattan, it’s the norm?!?!?
Because let’s be real for a minute. Back in those blissful, early days when HBO had us all believing we could navigate the Meatpacking District’s trendy cobblestone streets in heels, back when we thought the cupcake bubble would never pop (RIP Crumbs) and no one cared about Brooklyn (ohmygod remember when Miranda moved there with Steve and it was the WORST) and the likes of Hannah Horvath was still but a blessed seed germinating in the fruitful young mind of an overly ambitious millennial, the world was a simple, beautiful, easy-to-understand place: There were the Carrie girls, and there were all the other girls. And if you were a Carrie girl, life was pretty darn good.
Armed with a few good girlfriends, the occasional champagne-based brunch cocktail and an open heart, you could accomplish anything … on a freelancer’s salary, no less.
Except, did we ever really believe that? Did we ever really think we could score that rent-controlled apartment of our dreams simply because we shared Carrie’s passion for Manolo Blahniks and belief in the power of good sex? Sitting in my impossibly box-like, over-priced studio apartment which, for the record, still plays host to the occasional mouse, I couldn’t help but wonder: Was “Sex and the City” fooling us all along, or were we just fooling ourselves?
Of course, there’s a lot to love about Carrie’s dream life. And yeah, while she may have donned some questionable outfits in the name of fashion and dated some even more questionable men in the name of love, there is something admirable about a woman who believes in writing her own story – even if it is for a weekly sex column in the New York Star. While we can gush about her VIP access to elite parties, her front row seats at Fashion Week and her gorgeous ensemble cast of lovers, Carrie’s most worthy quality is also her most underrated – her agency. Nothing is beyond this woman’s reach. Hers is a world she’s created for herself, and while the details are, admittedly, at times suspect (seriously HOW does that bitch afford her apartment – is she the only writer in the world without student loans?!), she makes the most of her successes, even if that means spending an entire paycheck at Barneys. She squeezes her relationships for every last drop of passion, falling in and out of love with the same person so many times that pretty soon we’re all believers in second, third and fourth chances, or at the very least the degrees of closure that come with each and every fresh plunge. It took Carrie a few rounds with Big to be sure it could work. It took her a few rounds with Aidan to be sure it couldn’t.
And, to be fair, it hasn’t ALWAYS been easy for our little glitterati princess. For every Calvin Klein model she takes home, there’s the occasional creep as well. Let’s not forget, a man she was dating once asked her IF SHE WOULD PEE ON HIM. She’s puked in the Hamptons, maxed out credit cards, been mugged in the street and struggled to pick up her dry cleaning. Not so much unlike the rest of us.
If we hate her, it’s only because in the face of some pretty rotten situations, she still manages to prance away with a smile. Sure, she’s probably prancing away in a $400 pair of shoes, but I don’t think it’s the luxurious details of her life we find ourselves jealous of (though to be sure, they make for great television) – it’s her happiness, her ability to put a glamorous spin on the parts of life that are, decidedly, unglamourous, that leave us feeling left out.
Because there’s a lot to love about New York City’s unglamorous parts too – the parts we find ourselves writing about in excess as we complain about how we’ve all been duped by Carrie Bradshaw. People didn’t start moving here because of the excess of designer goods, but because of the glitz that stands to be found among the grit. The gems that don’t exist anywhere else. After a while, you realize the glamour of New York City is really all relative – it just depends on what you’re looking for.
It’s the man who runs the coffee cart on Broad and Water Streets, who remembers your order every single morning (large coffee, skim milk, no sugar) – customer service you won’t find at any Starbucks.
It’s the concert pianist who rolls his piano out to Washington Square Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon, just because there are people sitting there who could probably use a little music.
It’s the best brunch you’ve ever had in your life, 8 of your closest friends crammed together in your studio for homemade quiche because it’s the first of the month and you’re all too broke to eat out.
It’s the guy sitting next to you on the train late at night who isn’t afraid to strike up a conversation about the copy of “Confederacy of Dunces” he sees you reading, because it’s a great book and you both know you’ll never have another chance to talk to each other about it again.
Carrie Bradshaw’s greatest love affair of all was with New York City. There’s no reason why the same can’t be said for all of us brave enough to call this madhouse home – even if we don’t own a single pair of Manolos (and for that matter, probably never will).