New Yorkers, this is for you

keithwork01

Recently, i’ve been experiencing NYC in a strangely sentimental way every time i commute into the city for work.  I find myself snapping out of my usual thought-filled daze, looking up from the sidewalk, and just taking everything in, as if i were discovering the city anew.  And i can’t help but assume that i wouldn’t fit in anywhere other than New York.  I have these thoughts regularly, but these days, the conviction is so unshakable.  Sometimes when i ride the subway, i like to stand and hold the pole even if there are empty seats and casually look around and observe the people.  I don’t know what it is about subway trains, but i instantly feel comfortable and content in that sea of strangers who are so absorbed in their own bubbles but also refreshingly friendly, when given a chance to be.  New York friendly is a rare kind of friendly:  not overwhelming, not interfering, and most definitely not forced.  Friendliness in New York is warranted, not expected, but it’s also surprisingly prevalent, if you know how to interact with the people.  It could be in a quick nod or even just a glance.  Wherever you find it, it’s cool, never clingy, and it always brightens up your day, if only for a fleeting moment.  Perhaps “friendliness” is not the right word.  Maybe it’s solidarity.

The bubbles definitely exist, but they’re so clumsy and thin and easily breakable, and not many people realize that everyone needs and wants to break out of them sometimes.  There’s a secret camaraderie among New Yorkers, and i’m not sure how much of that exists—and if it does, what it’s like—in other big cities.  And so this is the question i’m faced with now:  do i leave New York knowing that physically, it’s an unhealthy environment for me, but risking never getting used to a population that behaves differently?  Do i go for the people or the environment?  In a way, i guess they’re one and the same.  What i really wanna know is, what are people in other big cities like?

——
*photo is of street artist Keith Haring and was taken by Chantal Regnault.  found here.

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2 Comments

Filed under culture, new york

2 responses to “New Yorkers, this is for you

  1. Jingjing

    I think you captured the New York feel absolutely…solidarity. I never feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable or taken aback by the interactions I have with strangers in New York. When I am in TX, perhaps I am no longer used to it, I always feel a bit uncomfortable by their sugar smile. I hated large elements of New Jersey, especially my school, which was strange because I found the residents of Hoboken quite likeable, but I hated all the students who were from different parts of NJ. I also hated all the guidos that came in on the weekends. They are hateful and horrendous people.

    Rather than the subway, I think it is the street that makes me the most comfortable. I immediately feel at home when I can walk around a city. Perhaps this is because of my childhood in China. I enjoyed taking walks in Paris. I also grew to the people, but I couldn’t stand them when we were in a subway. So many Parisiennes are self involved. They would push or shove me aside or take up the whole pole instead of sharing. I think that if you know New York will make you happy, then you should stay, but if it is another city you crave more, then leave. I am in Connecticut now and I am trying to do everything to try to move to NY.

    • n

      There definitely is something about walking the streets of New York, something so ironically soothing. I like to walk up 1st Ave from Houston to 26th, where i live. It’s my favorite avenue, and walking it makes me feel at home. I enjoyed being a flâneur in Paris as well, especially along the canals. I didn’t find a single thing redeeming about the people, though, so walking there was sort of a lonely experience, whereas in New York, it is never so.

      I hope you do come back to New York. I may no longer be here by that time, but for your sake at least, i hope it happens.

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