Five days is only enough time to dent the surface of New York, but I ventured to many of the requisite sites during my brief stay in the city. I suppose referring to it as the city would be offensive to New Yorkers, who seem intent upon it being known as THE CITY!!!!, and who also would have been incredulous to find out that this was my first visit to said CITY. 31 years old and you’ve never been to THE CITY?!?! There’s an obvious selfishness inherent in that, but in some way I can understand it: I suppose when you hail from one of the biggest and most influential places in the world, it’s difficult to imagine someone not having spent time there. One hears stereotypes aplenty about New Yorkers, and upon arriving I had a mental image of cold, brusque, fast-paced, get-the-hell-outta-my-way people, each of which proved to be accurate more often than not. But I didn’t mind: for the past two years I’ve worked at a bar, and I can take a dose curtness and not question the quality of my person. Also, my time was virtually unmoored: I had nowhere to be and no time by which I had to be there, and if someone wanted to cut in front of me or shove me aside to catch the subway because their life was so importantly rushed, that too was fine. I simply caught the next one.
A couple of the more stand-out interactions: I ate at an Indian restaurant in the Village and in all honesty the only words I heard from my waiter, from the time I sat down until I walked out the door, were, You ready to order? I got my hair cut in the Village. In the nearly twenty-minutes during which time this man was literally making bodily contact with me, he said all of, What do you want?, Does it look okay?, and Fifteen dollars. Maybe I’ve become a little spoiled living on the Left Coast, where people in service positions actually greet you, to whatever degree of sincerity, but greet you nevertheless and proceed through civilized and decorous service. I’m not a city psychologist or an urban sociologist, and I can’t pretend to attempt to find reasons for the coldnesses I experienced in the majority of my interactions. They’re probably there but on a far less grand and more individual level than I’m qualified to account for.
The rudenesses were balanced out by the occasional kindness. Neil, the doorman at the building where I stayed, was terribly engaging and helpful, and always greeted me by name and with a smile.
I was fortunate enough to stay with a really cool couple, Steve & Liz, in Manhattan, right around where the Theater District, Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper West Side meet one another. Steve & Liz were exceptionally accommodating and friendly, and their two beagles, Tucker and Arlo, provided me with affection aplenty. There was literally so much to do and see that even the most comprehensive list of activities would surely be short something, but I enjoyed myself greatly in the following: I sat and worked the Times crossword puzzle in Central Park; caught a Mets game at the soon-to-be-defunct Shea Stadium; walked through Battery Park and looked out over Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty; took in the Jeff Koontz and modern art exhibits at the Met; ambled along the banks of the Hudson and looked longingly towards Jersey; walked around the World Trade Center site; ate a lot of really great pizza; rode the subway all about; took a cab; met up with a couple of old friends in Brooklyn; checked out Wall Street; slumped about the Village; and generally wandered aimlessly about the city.