Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New York Pride

When I first moved to NY, I noticed that many people are very eager to help you if you are lost, look lost, or if you're just standing there. At first I thought, how nice of these people. These people are so nice. However, the longer I've lived here the more I think it is just because people want to show that they know this town, that they are real "New Yorkers," regardless of if they're nice or not, which they may be.

There is this surging intense pride that pulsates in the city. I used to marvel at this strange phenomenon. One day early in my New York life, i was on the subway train amidst a monsoon. This was the day that I stood on a stationary train for 45 minutes, finally had to bust out before I passed out or threw up all over everyone, and ended up walking across the Brooklyn Bridge to where I worked. My morning commute that day took me about 3 1/2 hours as I recall. But what I particularly remember is my conversation with a girl I stood next to on the train.

My patience and ability to stay conscious waning, I grew frustrated and declared,
"This is the WORST underground."
To which she replied calmly but with a twinge of pride, "there aren't that many."
"Well," said I, "of them, this is the worst."

Now, this is lame because I'd been on 2 subways in my life so I didn't have a clue at all, I think I was just being snotty & wanted to gripe. But I've totally changed.

I have lived in this town for 4 1/2 years now and I am here to tell you that I COMPLETELY have the New York pride. Absolutely I do. For better or for worse.

I've been aware of the growing New York pride inside myself but I didn't really know the extent of it until i went to Boston with my friend Brooke. I get out of the city about 2-3 times a year. Every time I do I am amazed at how different life on the "outside" is, and how tense I had been just living where I do. It builds and builds and I carry it all in my shoulders and joints and my eyebrows which are always a bit furrowed. Usually, though, I am in a place completely different, like Utah. Every once in a while though I visit other major cities in the country.

I mentioned in the other post how I am always so shocked at how small other supposedly "big" cities are. Take Boston. It is MINISCULE. It is small and quaint and it completely weirded me out at first. On our first night there, Brooke and I walked through a neighborhood that was very charming. Too charming. And too cute and too cobbley, at least for the likes of what my perception of what a big city is, or should be. It made me very nervous and I told brooke that maybe we needed to visit the "ghetto," so I could feel more at home.

This Boston trip really got me thinking about NY and my own pride and I discovered a strange phenomenon of my own. I think there is great accomplishment in surviving and even thriving in a city that in so many ways, is difficult to live in. We are survivors. I know this by seeing how other people in other towns live and how easy they have it. And choosing to live in New York is our red badge of courage and we all have a bit of ownership that gives us the right to brag, in a way. It is very personal to us, and while many of us love to hate it while we are there, when we are NOT, we become a Mother Hen to our New York and we will defend it. But it's in a prideful and maybe even snobby way. While I don't want to focus on negativity, in general, living in NY also gives us complaining rights as well.

I quite enjoyed myself in Bean Town. But while I appreciated the scaled-down-ness of the city overall, I scoffed at its piddliness and constantly found myself comparing it to New York. I delighted at the quaint subway with snobbery how it was more like an amusement ride for children. I'm sure Brooke really liked hearing all of my comments and I tried to bite my tongue but sometimes I couldn't help it.

But i was also comparing the negative things. When I would hear someone remark on the large amounts of people there, my instinct was to say "Pffffft. PLEASE. This is nothing compared to NY." And it's strange because the insane amount of people in NY is one of the things i grow very weary of. I am not a crowd person and crowdedness is something I loathe about New York. Yet at the same time, I am proud of it. This pride is weird. And there are many things I like about the city of Boston in its city-like way. How there are fewer people, it's cleaner, smaller, easier to get around. And it's strange because while I liked all of these things, I found myself defending the dirtier, smellier, more rickety things of New York. At one point after going through the automated subway entrance I remarked, "Ah... I prefer the ol' reliable turnstiles." Why? Since when do I care about turnstiles? Am I "old fashioned"? Do I resist slightly more modern technology? No. It is due to the growing New York pride that swells inside of me.

Maybe part of it is bitterness. Maybe this harsh realization stings and I realize just how much I have to survive and i think that maybe it's not fair a little bit. I will admit to you that when I go to Utah I shed a small tear at how nice and easy it is, how my shield melts away and I'm able to stretch my legs and take a deep breath and see the whole sky. So maybe the strong contrast is why I defend all of the negative things about NY as well as boast of all the things it has that are bigger and better and tastier and more exciting and fulfilling and educational. Maybe its discomforts and travails are what make me extra prideful of the wonderful things about it. Of which there are many. Because I'm also a city snob. I love the city life and all the food there is to eat. I love my New York pizza like a beloved pet (that i end up eating..?) and, when in other places, i have to swallow my disdain for pizza i grew up on because no one likes hanging around snobby people. And, you know, it's not like I'm so snobby i refuse to eat or do something/go somewhere. It's just that.. I've been educated. I know what's out there.. so if that was my only option? How could i be ok with that? with JUST that. How can i eat pizza anywhere else? What will I do if I live in a place where I don't hear a million different languages wherever I am? What if the only place to eat at is Applebees??? I am a snob. A NY snob and I'm proud of it, apparently. I didn't know I was, but I am. And I'm not sure how good of thing it is, but it is what it is.


)en said...

this post is kind of a mess. Didn't turn out quite how i wanted but I got sick of looking at it. Feel free to make critiques or if anyone wants to rewrite it, that'd be great. ;)

Joel said...

New York sounds like the ideal place for you to live. Since you like to give yourself weird challenges, living there seems to be the greatest one of all.