Mondays on Zelda & Scout are all about you! In a series we call “Just Folks,” we talk to Southerners who have found their way to New York about where they’re from, where they are now, and what home means to them.
This week we have Katie Levy. A fellow Louisville gal, Katie and Z&S go way back; Scout has known her since her kindergarten days. Nowadays, like Z&S, she finds herself a recent Bushwick transplant, on a quest for a real job…and the perfect dive bar.
Who are you and what do you do?
Currently I’m working in retail in New York while looking for a “real” job. Way easier said than done. In my free time, I like to go to museums, eat good food (ramen!), drink good drinks (always searching for a good dive bar), and explore! I’m sure I do other things too…but that’s what stands out in my mind.
Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?
What brought you to New York?
A few of my friends had been trying to get me to move here for years, and I finally went for it when my boyfriend moved up here for a job. I’d always wanted to live in New York, and with the timing working out things just fell into place. I used to visit every year with my family. We’d go see Broadway shows, spend time in Central Park, and do the typical tourist things. So there’s definitely a nostalgia factor, but right now I’m more excited about exploring and spending time in new areas of the city, like Brooklyn.
What’s the most common reaction when people learn where you’re from? What’s something about life in the South that you have to explain to non-Southerners?
Do you eat KFC for every meal? Do you own a tractor? Did you freak out when you moved to New York? Why don’t you have an accent? Oh, that’s why you’re nice! So you know how to drive? That’s why you’re not good at shoveling snow (or maybe I was just being lazy). That’s why you say “you all.”
The two things I end up explaining the most to people: that I actually grew up in a city, and that almost everything is way, way less expensive back home, except maybe a manicure. And a cup of coffee from my bodega.
Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.
To people at home, moving to New York seems glamorous. I mean, it’s the ideal, right? People grow up dreaming of “making it in the big city.” In reality though, I’m living in Bushwick with three roommates, and I have to commute to the city every day. I don’t have a washer/dryer, dishwasher, heat or AC, or a nearby grocery store. I could probably complain about how much more inconvenient (read: expensive) it is here, but there are so many more positives that outweigh the negatives. I love being able to walk around and stumble across amazing finds; that’s got to be one of my favorite things. I’ve found so many great bars and restaurants that way.
Where do you consider home? Why?
Home is always Louisville. That’s where I grew up. That’s where my family and friends are.
Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?
Yes. But I’m also a firm believer that everyone should move away from home at least once. That’s what makes you appreciate it. I absolutely plan on going back. I’ll be in New York for a while though. There’s still so much I need to see and do here.
Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?
That’s a tough question. I consider myself a Louisvillian more than anything. To New Yorkers, being from Louisville is the same as being from Kentucky, and we all know that isn’t true [Editor’s Note: Scout disagrees]. And to be honest, I’m still not 100% sure whether or not Louisville is considered “The South.” Up here, it definitely is. I’m not quite a New Yorker yet: I’ve been here less than six months. I still get really excited when I can give people directions on the street. Am I having an identity crisis? Ha!
So I suppose I have to answer with Southerner. Mostly because I love my bourbon, and I like betting on horses and eating Southern food. Does that sound really basic? Maybe, but it’s true.
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines New York for you?
Food: Dollar pizza, ramen, dim sum
Drink: I’ve finally come around to drinking dark beers! So that’s something new that I’ve embraced since being here. Bring on the imperial stouts, y’all.
More than anything, I feel like I hear people talking here about how to survive. Whether that’s how to navigate when the L is shut down, or how much you’re overpaying for your apartment/warehouse/artist space in east Williamsburg. And pop up’s. Pop up’s are all anyone talks about. Also brunch.
Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines where you’re from?
Drink- $1.50 beer at my favorite dive bar
Song- probably any song from the album The Moon and Antarctica by Modest Mouse. But that’s more out of a nostalgia for my time growing up rather than because it reminds me of a specific place.
What is the best cure for homesickness?
Calling friends and family is great, but I also find that going out and doing new things is a great cure. You’re creating new memories and keeping your mind off being homesick
Bagels or Biscuits?