Monday, September 18, 2006

NY: How it is

One thing I have trouble with is trying to accurately describe what it's like to live in New York to people who don't, or who haven't lived in the city in general. But i think NY is different because people have such strong images of what New York is like that they've had in their head for years and years that aren't even close to the whole picture. And because of that, i feel that it might be a slightly skewed perception of what NY is like, and so people have even less of an idea of what it's like to live here.

One big thing about New York is that it is physically hard to live here. The main difference I notice when I go home to Utah is the ease of things. Everyone has a car. If you need an item (of any size) you just get in your car and go. Then you get the item(s), load it/them in your car, and drive home with nary a drop of sweat breaking. If you want to get anywhere, you get in your car and go. You are in complete control of your travels. This might seem like nothing to you but I had completely forgotten what that feels like until I got a bike. I know, weird, right?

Here, every time you are going somewhere you have to decide which train is the best to take, or which bus, and if you should take one or the other. If you take the bus you try to go online to find the times but even that is a potentially arduous process. You may wait for a long time for the train too. Maybe not. Once you get on the train, you may be stalled for several minutes, maybe an hour, for reasons unknown to you. Ok, so if you're in a car, sitting in traffic is a common occurance but at least you'rebehind the wheel and you know why you've stopped. Maybe you can't see the obstruction but you can see all the cars in front of you that are stopped as well. Regardingmy bike, one time i had a Dr. appointment in B-town. After the whole routine of figuring out the best way to get there i suddenly realized, I can take my bike! I can leave whenever i want! And then I can leave immediately and not depend on something else to get me hoooome! It was awesome.

Whenever I shop i take into consideration the things I need to buy. Groceries are generally no big deal. There's a grocery store 4 blocks away so it's easy and quick to get there. If I don't have my cart , then I know I can't buy too many heavy things. Milk, but not juice. Bananas--ooh, those tend to be heavy. Applesauce? Yipes. Any canned goods= lots of weight. See what I mean? And even if I do have my cart, there are some places/distance to which i just don't want to take it. Consider stores like Lowe's or Home Depot. Consider the things one might buy at these stores. Furniture, wall items, gardening equipment, etc. You can either tie big things up with twine and hoof it all home or, if you're in Manhattan, get a cab, which will cost about $30-$40. Usually we just carry it home. It is not unusual to see people carrying items such as tall bookshelves or organization units, chairs, tables, things of that nature, just out on the sidewalk.

I hope it doesn't sound too much like I'm complaining. I mean, yes, I wish I had a car. It would make things so much easier. But there's something about not taking things for granted and really having to work for the simple things of every day life that is very satisfying. Recently, some friends of ours, the Gibsons, moved from Brooklyn to Cincinnati, Ohio. In an email, Jon perhaps states best everything I've been trying to say. He said:

"We really miss life there - life is comfortable here, that's the nice thing and the drawback. There really is something about the daily need of survival that energizes one to make a place for themselves. Here, well, everything is so not urgent or pressing - since, well, you can just drive there quickly or there is no real difficulty in accomplishing it - thus you don't appreciate it."

4 comments:

Brooke said...

I think I can understand this, having lived in the DC area without a car. You DO have to consider the weight of your grocery items. Even if you have a car, which my roommate did, grocery shopping wasn't as easy as in the West because you couldn't take the cart to your car--only just outside the doors of the store. Too many stolen carts, I guess.

The no car thing can get pretty draining in NY, I imagine.

MC said...

Make me miss Boston....in some ways. =)

mary said...

Reminds me of the difference between leaving your home without kids and leaving your home with kids. Without kids--pick up your purse/wallet/manbag/whatever and walk out the door.
With kids--wrestle kids to the floor, pin them, and put on shoes and socks, put diapers, wipes, tissues, sippy cups, snacks, pacifiers in the bag, find keys, wrestle kids to the floor again and put the shoes and socks back on, put older kid in the corner for time out for kicking the baby, comfort the baby, wipe everyone's noses, get one kid buckled into the car seat, unbuckle kid from car seat, go back inside for a trip to the potty, shoot! tear around the house trying to find books and movies that are a week late at the library, get shoes and socks back on the kid who thinks it's hilarious to take of her shoes and socks, go to the car. . .and the fun is just beginning. We won't even delve into the joy that is traveling with kids. I will count my blessings that I don't have to shop in New York with my children. God bless any mother who does!

jen said...

Ha ha. Yeah... funny stuff. I liked the thought of you carrying a manbag even though obviously that's meant for Jon. That's just the first thought that came to me. I also liked "put older kid in the corner for time out for kicking the baby." ha ha. The whole scenario is just a funny image in my mind. And, "wipe everyones noses." Jon's included, right.

Yeah, it's the wilderness out here. Ashley can testify. a) they missed their flight. Just hard to gauge how much time to account for. b) She has gone up and down maaaany many flights of subway stairs today. It was a task. She did it, and Anna was a trooper, but yeah. Then, battling on the crowded sidewalks..on the subway..she'll have to tell you about it.