I have this theory that New York is filled with people who were teased in school for being different and then all congregated on in New York to finally be a part of the in crowd and judge the rest of the world. We are a city of misfits. In the interest of full disclosure, I definitely include myself in this category as well. Like everyone else in this city, I take immense pleasure in criticizing everything; food, TV, movies, cities, various train lines, and many more things that no one cares about. I am starting to realize that other people do not act this way. Let’s hope I can make some new friends despite my snobby nature.
I have taken to walking everywhere these days. I miss my unlimited MetroCard and the ability to go anywhere as often as I liked for $104 per month. I never had to be that person fumbling at the MetroCard kiosk trying to refill my pay-per-ride card. Now without my golden transit ticket, I have been walking, trying to save $2.25 any time I can. Truthfully, it has been nice spending quality time with the city that I love; tracing her contours with my steps, getting a good look at what I have been living among for these past five years; the juxtaposition (thanks, Brunnemer) of architecture old and new, the conglomeration of foods, stores and people all on a tiny strip of bedrock.
I love the concentration of stores, schools, restaurants, bars and corporations all on top of one another here. One of my best friends from college said in our freshman year that he used to walk home from work listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Only Living Boy in New York” and felt like he was the only one in the whole city. We still tease him about it, but there is something to be said about wandering through the city with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company. Walking across the blocks and seeing all the different people and places of the world really gives you time to think and be alone by yourself. It’s kind of incredible that even though we are an island of 1.6 million people and a city of 8.2 million, you can feel so peacefully alone.
All of this walking has made me really think about what it means to live in an urban area. I have traveled a fair bit and I have never seen a city like New York. There is something here for everyone, all within walking distance, which is pretty incredible if you think about it. As you make your way from East 86th street to East 9th Street you are able to see how neighborhoods gradually change but all the while keeping that unique New York quality about them. The streets become a bit more narrow, the views change, the demographics change (well, these days it’s older rich white people to slightly less rich white people), and cultural nuances change. I will have the same thing in Troy, but in a different fashion. The city is more spread out and people tend to drive rather than walk. Man, that will be scary. I will miss my independence from driving.