I guess from childhood I was expecting New York to be a city of endless skyscrapers where the only sunlight has been reflected or refracted off buildings down to the street. And yes, NYC is a bit like that, but only in a couple of places. Generally it's much more open, expansive and light than I had expected.
I also expected a cold, unfriendly, smelly, fast, impersonal metropolis. Again, only partly correct. There was an unexpected warmth and a surprising politeness.
So in a way, NYC was everything I expected and nothing like I expected all wrapped into one.
Choosing to stay for a decent length of time was a really good call. I feel I've had sufficient time to do what I wanted without getting frantic and now I'm ready to come home. I've loved this trip and my time in this city. It's been enough to satisfy both my appetite and curiosity. And yet I know I've still only scratched the surface; sampling the parts of New York life that I have felt willing and able to explore.
I doubt I would come back here again solo, but with someone else it would always be a possibility.