Haley Greenwald-Gonella: New York City

What’s your historical Los Angeles and New York connection?
My mom is a Brooklyn girl, so when I was growing up I thought I was New Yorkish, in addition to being an Eastern European mutt, which I guess is sort of the same thing. I grew up in the Central Valley in Northern California and went to college and grad school in Orange County and LA, respectively, which were absolutely some of my “formative years.”

Describe your experience in NYC.
I thought I was going to go to graduate school here, but then I landed in LA. I moved to NYC as soon as my thesis was filed. It was about time. I was always going to move here. I wanted something challenging and gritty. I knew that NYC was going to be my crucible and make me a better me. I also wanted to experience art every single day, not just a day-trip at a time confined by museum hours, which is how the LA traffic made me feel. I often say that I moved here for the subway performers and street musicians.

I moved around a lot during my first 3 months in the city, staying with family and friends, trying to find my way in the city—on the plus side, I learned all of the trains pretty quickly. I really got to experience different neighborhoods in a deep way before settling on Hell’s Kitchen, which I still love (that was two apartments ago)! I also learned a lot about my family history, which was a big reason I moved to NYC. I definitely feel like there was so much me already here—that’s what happens when your grandfather owned bars and delis in the city and your great-grandfather had a grocery store in Greenpoint… way before it was cool to be in Greenpoint!

I have more jackets and coats right now, than all of the coats and jackets I’ve had combined throughout my entire life up to now! Also, you’re not a real New Yorker until you openly cry on a bus…

What was the biggest challenge of moving from LA to NYC?
Just doing it. Buying that one-way ticket was vomit-inducing. I feel very lucky to have such a strong support system that was already in place here. It took a minute to adjust to not having a car, at least initially—I didn’t feel like I could go anywhere I wanted at any point in time, but that’s changed, too. I sold my car in California a year ago. I do not miss driving around for hours trying to find parking! I do still jump at the chance to drive when I’m home, though.

How can NYC and LA best engage with each other?
The world has gotten so ridiculously small! We still have a lot of work to do, though, in bringing the best of both coasts together. Ideally, I opt for in-person engagement, but when that’s not an option, I’m a big fan of a phone call—I think that people overuse email more often than not, especially with little things, but everything seems a bit gentler over the phone. I think California overall has a lot to teach NYC about appreciatingresources and NYC could certainly teach CA how to be more collaborative. I think a lot of that comes from literally living on top of each other—the consciousness in NYC is collective. You’re always around your fellow New Yorkers and there’s no car surrounding you, protecting you. Of course, there’s always art—I think art and arts tech will continue to find ways to bridge the coasts.

Favorite LA secret spot
Not a secret, but Bodega in Santa Monica during their Sunday afternoon happy hours—I once dragged my family there post Mother’s Day brunch and everyone loved it! It’s totally different scene on Sundays from the weeknight crowds—it’s quiet and there are board games! If that’s not your thing, the bread at Bay Cities Italian Deli is worth the wait.

Favorite NYC secret spot
It would have to be Aurora. I love to grab lunch there when life is super hectic as a little treat. The food is amazing and seasonal.
Also, the avocado salad at Meade’s is amazing enough to outweigh the fact that there’s no AC, but there is outdoor seating!

If you were not at Horizon, what would you be doing?
I would be creating an experiential marketing company—employing data
visual artists and large-scale sculptors and producing interactive events or I would be a choreographer of a small modern dance company, with a foundation in ballet technique or doing social media for The Met Museum.

What’s on your playlist right now?
Kacey Musgraves, Daft Punk, Ed Sheeran, Bonnie McKee, there’s also always room for some Ke$ha and I’m falling in love all over again with the stuff I listened to in high school—the 90’s are trendy again!

From the 2462 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + LOS ANGELES

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