Someone recently asked me how I've changed since moving to New York. I've been here for about 4 years now, so that's a pretty substantial amount of time. I reflected for a minute and here are some ways:
I'm much more assertive, which, to non-NYers, might translate as "mean." But only when i'm out! And i wouldn't say i'm mean, per se, i just am a bit more forthcoming.. louder.. more direct. I take control. Here, it's kind of step, or be stepped on. If you don't stand your ground, you're going to get plowed over. I've definitely learned you have to have a sort of protective shell when you're here. For example: in the beginning, suppose i was walking around town and a woman was talking loudly very near to where i was. Then, i might have said "i'm sorry? what was that? do you need help?" Now, i know to just ignore. I would stop if i really thought the person is sane and just needs help, but i've learned how to discern.
Also, I've learned NEVER to walk over to a man in his car when he calls you over. Don't think he's lost and needs directions because he doesn't, unless he wants directions to your pants. p.s. don't give them to him. You might think it sounds mean to ignore people, but when 75% of these people are crazy, creepy, dangerous, drunk, etc., you have to protect yourself. Don't judge me!! Seriously, i've had to learn this lesson over and over. And what's more, I think I'M turning a little crazy from being around all the crazies. Actually, no. I think it's just tough out there. You have to learn how to survive. So even though I'm ignoring them, they have my sympathy.
I'm able to hail a taxi with no problem. I'm also able to wheel and deal and not get totally taken advantage of by weasels. If i know they're overcharging me, i..will..not..back..down. grrr. Unless i think they might pull out a weapon, or kidnap me.
Also, my personal space has significantly decreased. In the early days, i might refuse to take an open seat on the subway because it's just a little uncomfortable to sit that close to a stranger. I see visitors and out-of-towners do this all the time. But now, if there's an available seat, it is MINE. Sean and I have had many discussions on noticing the "signs" of someone getting ready to get up and vacate their seat, and the appropriate/most effective tactics to swoop in and take it. I am a master. I could seriously write a long long book on subway dynamics. It's fascinating, really. But yeah, it's really tiring standing on the train the whole way so everyone has their eyes automatically peeled for an open seat and we all make the beline. Oftentimes, i win. I do. And it's because i know where to stand, what to look for, and, basically, i just have amazing catlike speed and reflexes.
My exposure to other cultures and races has definitely expanded. I can't really give any specifics as to what this means exactly, but I'm just more well-rounded that way. It's really, really nice.
I know so much more about art than I used to. Ok, this might be attributed to having married an artist, but going to all the museums here does not hurt. I have my favorites. It's all good.
I have become a food snob. Now that i've tasted a lot of what's there, i can't go back to what i used to eat. I'm speaking mostly of when i go out to eat. And i mean, i'm fine eating at chain restaurants (i miss Chik-fil-A so much it hurts) but if that's ALL there was? seriously, it scares me to think about it. But my tastes are definitely more refined. Cheese, chocolates, breads, ethnic foods, etc. It saddens me when i see people who don't know that world and worse still, who don't care to know it. You're just missing so much.
New York, what have you done to me? But i love you, all the same.