Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Living in a "Sucked Orange"

As I made my way through the crowd of a million people yesterday around 5pm, a thought occurred to me. I fucking hate crowds. I thought this was a quality only grumble-pusses like my father have; the hatred for a bizillion people surrounding you at all times. But the sad truth is, while trapped between an increasingly slow moving tourist with a stroller and a woman behind me invading my lung space with a blazing hot cigarette, I could envision what I might do (er...accomplish?) if I had a gun in my hand at the time.

It's not just the people that make this tiny city feel even smaller. It's the whole environment. The sun-blocking skyscrapers that seem to lock in the stale air on days with no wind. The confinement of the subway, and how you can go in with the early evening light on your back and come back out into total night wondering how the day could dissipate so quickly. The transit from cab to bus to train, sitting in cramped spaces shared with coughing strangers while trying to balance an enormous umbrella on your lap.

It's also the difference between the wide open space of California or Texas. How one can look outside their window and see an uninterrupted horizon before them. How one's eyes can float over miles and take in land, trees and water in one vast scape. It's what I miss most when I look outside my office window only to see brick, cement and a mess of floating cars below.

There are times (though increasingly less, maybe it's the weather) when this used to comfort me. Instead of bars, the closeness of New York felt more like insulation. Like my padding from the outside world. I could retreat to the underworld of the subway and find myself somewhere on the other side of the city, somewhere besides my hollowed apartment in Bed Stuy. I undoubtedly have learned skills that you just don't learn in places like San Francisco. Like how to zone out some of the most disturbing noises (the screech of an approaching train, the rumble of the subway beneath the sidewalk, the police sirens that pass down 34th street every 5 minutes...)
I live in a city (Brooklyn) of about 6 million people. 6 million people in a city about as big as my home town in California, Oakland; population 400,000. I think that in places like New York one can easily loose themselves, but if they don't it says a lot about them. I've come across so many people here striving to become something other than who they really are. Hiding behind the rush and the atmosphere of New York, muddling their voices in cliches and becoming empty posers. When I first got here I marveled at those who were nothing like the people I knew from home. Now I just miss the kindness of a stranger saying, "excuse me" when they bump into you on the street.


Sally@MyriadLife said...

I've visited NY 3 times now but only for short trips. I loved it but not when I visited in January. I wouldn't go so far as to say I hated it then but the sub zero temps and the internal heaters that suck any moisture out of your skin and throat really did me in! I get what you're saying about the people too but I found it a bit similar when I lived in London. Some people put on an act because of where they live which is weird and fake. It's a big deal moving as far as you have to such a different environment. I did that when I was 17. It's a good thing to do, seriously, you only ever find out by actually living in places what they are really like. Try not to let the bad stuff swallow you up. You write brilliantly and am enjoying your blog.

Lotus said...

Thank you! There are good and bad things about NYC. I think the weather tends to highlight those things respectively.

Chaotically Calm said...

I think it's the weather. Only when it gets cold like this do I begin to think about the horrors that are the city. Granted Philadelphia does sleep, but people have issues with excuse me here as well. Does it take so much out of you to be kind...ugh people.