Side-ist: [sahyd-ist] Noun. A person possessing, or thought to be possessing, a superior location in one of the five boroughs of New York City. Can pertain to borough, neighborhood, subway line, uptown/downtown and east/west:
“She moved to Greenpoint and suddenly refused to meet us in Hell’s Kitchen for Happy Hour after work. I hate that she’s become such a side-ist.”
When I first moved to the City, I was über mobile. I would meet anyone, anywhere, at any time. I was unemployed, living in Gramercy Park, and found I was making friends in every neighborhood in Manhattan, as well as in Astoria and all over Brooklyn. It was an adventure to explore my new city and saying “no” wasn’t an option.
The word “no” in relation to making plans wasn’t even in my vocabulary. I was the ultimate anti-side-ist.
When I moved to Rose Hill (I’m trying to not acknowledge my Murray Hill address), I felt the same way. I found myself a relationship with a guy in Astoria and the Lovers’ Commute wasn’t even a big deal. If anything, I wanted to get out of my borough more than ever. I was inspired to explore parts unknown with him! Then we broke up.
Real quick backstory:
At an event a few years ago in Naples, Florida I met Hal Linden aka Captain Barney Miller from the 80’s TV show by the same name, whom bestowed upon me the theory of Geographical Undesirableness. It stemmed from a conversation we were having about living in LA and dating/not dating someone in The Valley, and I found the important tidbits coming back to me years later. Astoria = Geographically Undesirable.
Now back to present-day Kari:
In May I moved to the West Village. Suddenly I was scoffing at going above 14th Street and whining when anyone suggests the Upper East Side on a weekday. Grabbing dinner across a river? Yeah… no.
My neighborhood bias then became an emotional barrier. I started only dating people who lived in the West Village, Chelsea, or SoHo. The East Village was debatable, depending on how far past Broadway their cross streets were, because that would involve more walking time than going to see anyone along the BDFM or ACE.
My Tinder/Jswipe radius? Less than 1 mile, of course.
How wonderful this new dating lifestyle was! Every date was within walking distance; every evening included a gentlemanly walk to my door. I was learning about my new neighborhood and all the hidden gems within it. I bragged about my new downtown life. I was an elitist.
I say “was” like I’m not anymore. I totally still am. The Village is clearly the superior Manhattan neighborhood to live and play in.
But I recently had an epiphany that altered my perspective on all this Side-ism business: Just because I was limiting my dating pool, didn’t mean I had to limit my dating locations.
I live in New York fucking City! To sit tight in one spot is the biggest waste of my rent check I can think of. So now I don’t. I’m back to my old ways. I go to Battery Park. I go to Brooklyn. I even spent an afternoon in New Jersey. I surprisingly had a great time.
Look at the progress I’ve made! I’m dating above 14th (but still below 34th) and even venturing into boroughs unknown for exciting and romantic rendezvous. My Side-ism is now in control and I feel better than ever.
So my personal advice nugget today is this: it’s perfectly acceptable to not want to date someone who is Geographically Undesirable, but the biggest mistake you can make when you live in NYC is to limit where you date them.