I was away from New York City for most of July. It was my longest absence from the City since I moved here in 2005. Quite honestly, before leaving, I couldn’t wait to get away. The City was exhausting me and seemingly weighing me down. As a matter of fact, last year around this time, I was seriously considering moving to Nashville, Tennessee. I imagined a slower pace was what I needed on a day to day basis to enjoy more of life.
Apparently, I only needed a break. Even more apparent, three weeks away was more than enough. Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. Almost immediately upon my return (i.e. on the ride home from the airport), I was gushing with pleasure from the energy infusing me just from driving through the City and seeing all the people going about their lives.
I returned on a Friday evening and I was beyond eager to rush out the door Saturday afternoon and just sit in the energy of the City. Within hours of my return, my otherwise routine Saturday afternoon revealed the following things that make this city so great and so aggravating at the same time. The people make this city what it is and there is no place else in the world quite like it.
Here are some things I missed in the order that they made an impression from Friday through Sunday after my return.
1. The vibrancy of the city.
I can’t explain it, but the City has a pulse. The incredible crowds of people definitely contribute to the City’s heartbeat. I can’t even explain the amount of energy I got just from looking at the crowds in motion. It’s electrifying. It’s invigorating.
2. Bodacious pedestrians
As the airport shuttle aggressively drove through Times Square to drop off the first passenger at a hotel, jaywalkers crisscrossed in front of us every 20 feet. The shuttle driver didn’t necessarily dodge the jaywalkers or slow down, resulting in most of the jaywalkers rushing to get out the road. All except one bodacious woman of steel. This woman stopped in the middle of the road with her hand raised in a “halt” motion even as her friends darted between cars to get clear of traffic. I heard her shout, “Slow down!” He didn’t. I shook my head. Luckily one of her friends reached out and yanked her out the way.
3. True diversity.
Over 190 countries are represented in this city. People are so different, but living in this city gives us common ground to build on. I’ve recently realized that if you can’t see diversity, then diversity doesn’t exist where you are looking. True diversity is visible and it changes the norm.
4. The audacity of servers.
My first meal out was brunch at a neighborhood spot. My bill, with tax, came to $15.80. I gave the server $20.85 and he said, “Thanks, have a great day.” I told him to have a good day too and waited for my change. Five minutes later, as he passed my table for the second time since grabbing my money, I told him I needed my change. #I’m not brand new bro.
5. Ridiculous salespeople (hair stylists are in this group too)
There was a pair of sandals I admired on one of the women I met overseas. She told me she had purchased them in Brooklyn, so I was effectively on a mission to find them in the City. As I walked through Union Square Saturday afternoon, I spotted a similar style through a storefront window. I walked in and found the style I wanted, turned and asked the salesperson if he had the sandal in size 42 and red. He returned with a black pair and insisted I try it on. I asked him again for red and as he attempted to cut off the circulation at my ankle with the too short strap, he admitted that he was trying to force me into a size 41 and he did not have red in stock. I thanked him for his willingness to sell me a sandal in a size too small and the wrong color.
6. Toilet seat covers.
Do I need to say more?
7. The shopping experience.
While away, I truly wanted to experience everything about the culture I was in. One of my disappointments with the European city I was visiting was how much it had been infiltrated by American culture. I can’t name one brand indigenous to the country I was in, but I saw a great many American, British and French brands. Now that I’m back, it’s sheer pleasure to be ensconced in the decadent over-abundance that is American shopping culture in America.
8. The View
Every street either has a view of something spectacular or leads to a spectacular view
9. People. Activity. Life.
Below are photos of Times Square, Sunday morning at 10:15 AM on my way to church. Where else are people out like this on an overcast Sunday morning?
With comfortable shoes, one could walk all day here and not feel the walk at all because of everything going on. On my walk across town from church to my afternoon spa appointment, I encountered a street fair. I ended up walking a bit out of my way just to see what was on offer. That’s the beauty of the City: so much is on offer. The displays are always great, but participating makes living here worth while.
The Invention of Jaywalking Was a Massive Shaming Campaign (paleofuture.gizmodo.com)
Popular Travel Destinations in New York City (local.answers.com)