onLove: When Friends Pay a Visit

One of the great things about living in a vibrant city like New York is that my friends from back home are always more than willing to come visit me. Especially now that summer is in full swing, plenty of out-of-town friends are staking their claim on available weekends and planning overnight stays at my apartment. These get-togethers are usually marked by touristy outings, drinks at what is deemed to be a “classy” wine bar or lounge, and people-watching in Union Square at 2AM.

While I do love my friends dearly, gone are the days of having a large, three-bedroom apartment with multiple roommates and plenty of space for people to crash at the night’s end. Now, in my humble one-bedroom abode, I have a futon shoved haphazardly into my kitchen area, which is usually an uncomfortable 90+ degrees thanks to my refusal to buy an air-conditioner (equal parts laziness and thriftiness.) The other sleeping arrangement I can offer my guest is for us to share my bed. But two sweaty, adult bodies on a full-sized mattress pretty much negates my sad little desk fan, which spins madly in the night as it struggles in vain to keep the room cool.

Of course I preface any potential visitation with a disclaimer, warning my guests that my apartment is nothing like the glamorous ones they may have seen on sitcoms and other television shows based in NYC. But no matter how much I try to prepare my friends for the harsh reality of non-luxury New York City apartments, it seems as though I never do a good enough job, because many arrive and their eyes instantly widen in surprise. Beads of sweat form on their brow, the inevitable result of walking up four flights of stairs. And their discomfort is apparent as they take a quick survey of my cluttered, cramped space.

After the initial shock wears off, there is always another concern hovering in the air: What are my friends going to do the entire time they’re here? For some, this is their first time in New York sans elementary school field-trip itinerary. Your friend will turn to you for advice on where to go, what to see, where to eat… and you’ll be expected to provide answers. So the awkward but necessary question comes shortly after my friend gets settled.

“Uh… what do you wanna do?” I ask, hoping my inquisition will not be met with silence, a shrug, or a hasty “I dunno, what do you wanna do?”

In order to avoid being caught in an awkward verbal ping-pong match, where half-hearted ideas are lobbed back and forth for several minutes, try to keep a few fail-safe plans tucked away in the back of your mind.  Even if you just spend an hour regrouping at an air-conditioned cafe, your friend will appreciate your taking the initiative. Also, this is a great time to take advantage of all the student discounts and fun activities the city has to offer. A trip to a museum or impromptu elevator ride to the top of the Empire State Building will help remind even the most jaded New Yorker that the city is teeming with diversity and life. And local knowledge coupled with the enthusiasm and excitement that a visitor brings can lead to a great bonding experience.

If offering up your couch isn’t a realistic option, friends can still visit—just work out another arrangement before they arrive.  There are plenty of affordable hotels, and some are even offering reduced rates during the summer. Blue Moon Hotel on Orchard Street (between Broome and Delancey) is offering a student discount of 10%.  As a compromise for their staying elsewhere, you can offer to treat your friends to a lunch or pay for their ticket to one of the exhibits you end up visiting.

-Alex Agahigian, NYU-

I have lots of other things to say

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