Growing up in one of the busiest cities in the world is not your typical childhood experience.
Driver's licenses were exchanged for MetroCards, squirrels were replaced with pizza-carrying subway rats and many of my school trips consisted of seeing Broadway shows, rather than visiting museums. But, I wouldn't change a thing.
I grew up in Brooklyn, NY one of the five boroughs of New York City. To answer your questions now, no, I have never seen Jay Z and Queen Bey, and yes, I know "where Brooklyn at."
After attending high school in the heart of Midtown and only a block away from Times Square, I felt like I knew everything there was to know about worldly things and was jaded AF at the young age of 17. Now, at 21, I am a student at Penn State (which is located in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania), and I can confidently say, man was I wrong.
I had no clue women had straight male friends and that perhaps it's not socially acceptable to still not have your license by your senior year in college. But damn, I still think that growing up in New York was the best, and here are nine reasons why:
1. You see everything.
Some of the most bizarre things I've ever seen have taken place in a subway cart. From almost getting your faced bashed in by a subway performer pole-dancing to having your eardrums burst from the loud tunes of a mariachi band, it's always "showtime" in New York.
2. There are so many Broadway shows to see.
I mean, do I even really have to go into detail? You literally have some of the world's best performances a subway ride away or, if you're lucky, along the way.
3. My childhood was filled with lots of good food, specifically bagels and pizza.
I'm sorry, but I genuinely don't know what anyone else ate as kid who did not grow up in one of the boroughs. And, if you did eat bagels and pizza wherever you are, how did you manage to?
For God's sake, every time I go home now, I freeze an XXL pepperoni pie and lug it back to college because I am definitely not eating your cardboard-topped-with-tomato-sauce-excuse for pizza.
4. Summer is filled with block parties.
No, not the "mad decent" kind that Diplo throws every summer throughout the country; I'm talking about the real kind. Block parties are exactly what they sound like. It is when your street is given a permit to shut down the for a day of fun.
This was my childhood version of "turning up." There was bouncy houses, rides, cotton candy, games and so much more. If you were lucky enough, someone would even open up a fire hydrant to create a makeshift sprinkler.
5. People hang out on stoops just like in "Hey Arnold!"
Many of our adolescent nights were spent on the stoop. I was, in fact, stoop kid.
6. Before I hated Times Square, I loved Times Square.
Going there as a kid was like going to Disney World. As much as I dread plowing through the seven different sketchy Elmo and Dora the Explorer characters lurking around now, it still has a special and nostalgic place in my heart.
7. I was, and still am, a tourist in my own city.
As a kid, my parents tried to make sure my childhood was filled with fun activities. I saw shows, went to Ellis Island and climbed the Statue of Liberty.
However, I still have so much to explore. The next thing on my bucket list is to go to the top of the Empire State Building.
8. As I got older, I realized you can get anything at any time.
I've bought many bacon, egg and cheeses at 2 am while coming home from a night of debauchery after my "really good" fake ID was denied from seedy places in Midtown.
9. New York has produced some of my favorite people.
With the exception of Donald Trump, New Yorkers were the people who made my childhood so special, including my family, friends and all the crazies running around the streets of NYC.
My childhood was not so typical. When I came to Penn State, I was genuinely shocked by how different my home life was from everyone else's.
I've never went to a pep rally, never saw my high school basketball team play (mostly because we didn't have any sports) and had no idea what a "homecoming" was until my freshman year of college.
As much as I wonder what it would have been like to grow up in the suburbs, I wouldn't trade my adolescence for anything.