Friday, April 03, 2015

NY I Miss: The People

If you suddenly lurched forward, grabbed me, held a knife to my neck and said, "What's the ONE THING you miss most about New York, Jen!"  (because it's so hard to decide but maybe not so hard with a knife to my neck), I would say the ONE thing I miss most is the people.  My friends, absolutely. There's something about making friends when you're out in the wild that really makes it something special. But really it's just being around other people. Interacting with humanity, for good or bad. Those moments were always when i felt most alive, were the most magical. Or frightening and anger-inducing. Either way, the feelings were rigorous and, turns out, that strange kind of community might be something i'd grown not just accustomed to, but perhaps a little addicted, for it now feels like awful withdrawals.  I yearn for interaction, to be amongst people who could come from the opposite kind of life of mine. To share life with for a fleeting but meaningful moment. Ahhh, that is the good stuff. 

To illustrate, Sean and I had a conversation a while back. It may have seemed to him that i wasn't paying very good attention since I happened to be at my computer when it began and thus started to vigorously transcribe, but I was, oh, i was paying good attention.  I call this one,

Sean and Jen Talk About the People
SEAN: to me, there, it's kind of a twisted kind of loneliness. to always be surrounded by people, even if i was ignoring them or being ignored by them.  It's kind of like the fair. There's this continual excitement. There's always something going on and you're always experiencing it with at least a half dozen people immediately around you. Most of my experiences here are either solitary or with people i choose to experiencing them with. Not just the general horde. There, even if i ran out at 11:00 for ice cream or butter or milk, i would see ten people and talk to two, just to achieve that. 
 And here, there's either no place for butter or milk or not worth going 20 minutes for it. 15. whatever.  But there it's interesting to be like, I'm at home with Jen watching a movie and having a brownie emergency and these ten or twenty people are smoking outside the bar on Vanderbilt or working the late shift at the bodega or hanging out late, waiting for ramen.  But there are definitely people there are all the time. There's something about doing laundry that's less lame when you're at a laundromat and you see other people doing their thing, doing laundry as well and you're all doing your thing.  Together.  Whatever it is. You're not alone doing laundry in your house, which is kind of lame.  

It was so specific. It was, i'm going to go do my laundry and see what other people are doing. I'll see who's fixing their bike, who's waiting for the B65 [bus], i'll see who's having italian food and i'll see how my sad french restaurant is doing. If there's an important soccer game going on, i will know, because there will be a crowd at Woodwork [a bar]. And that's just one intersection.  So knowing you're in the middle of something huge makes you feel a part of it. I don't think it necessarily makes you feel like you're famous or whatever people say. You only feel that when you're not there.  When you're there you feel like you don't matter at all.  

JEN: I don't know, though. I always felt cool being there.  

SEAN: Just being there?

JEN: Yeah

SEAN: Maybe i didn't think about that enough. I probably should have, you know. Like for somebody to hang out a sign and be like, i'm about to start a restaurant on vanderbilt avenue--that's a big deal, you know? And if you can make it in brooklyn in a foodie place and an up and coming foodie neighborhood, maybe you've got something really special going on there.

JEN: I think knowing it was fleeting at some kind of rate or pace, i was always conscious of it.  It was always there. I knew it would be gone one day, I just didn't know when. But knew it could happen at any moment. This kind of thinking was something I thought was amusing at the time but which I now think is kind of a perfect way to live.

SEAN: You always knew you were passing through.

JEN: Yes.  And I can totally see now why people wouldn't want to stay in the same place for very long. People who get the itch to move somewhere new, have new experiences. I totally get that. 

SEAN: Even if you love the place you're in? You still need to move so you don't grow to hate it?

JEN: i don't know how it is for other people who experience similar feelings but that's how it was for me.  But also it was so hard living there in NY so that was an easy reminder and a very present thing. It wasn't like I was anticipating it being horrible or assuming I'd hate something one day based on nothing. Living there, in many ways, is pretty unsustainable. You can do it, but you have to give. A lot.

SEAN: From the beginning.

JEN: yes.

SEAN: I mean, there were some things we got good at and there were some things you just can't get good at. The only way you can get good at parking is to spend $500 a month for a spot.

JEN: Yes, or do an art piece where you take pictures of yourself waiting for parking, so as to take some bit of control of the situation. [Coming to a gallery near...someone...] It's a mind over matter thing.

SEAN: art is therapy. 

SEAN: I didn't realize you were writing down what i was saying until late in the game.

SEAN: It's not even that i miss specific people, i just miss being a part of something.  When i went to Home Depot here, i didn't hate the crowd at all because people were busy doing things. I'd see them and be like, ooh, you're getting a new garbage disposal today? How fun. 

SEAN: [referring to Bklyn] Imagine the scariest person you can imagine. You just KNOW they've got a weapon and blood on their hands. They're coming down the sidewalk and you're about the pass them and you have that rush of, they're 20 feet away, 10 feet away, 6 feet away. I am SO close to a serial killer right now. And then they're gone.

JEN: Which probably happened! 

SEAN: And maybe they were thinking the same thing. But how often does this kind of interchange happen here? It just doesn't. You don't MIX. 

JEN: I once stood on the train, holding onto the bar over a guy who was sitting and had the HUGEST gaping, openly bleeding head wound.  I mean... i assume he was ok because he was conscious and just sitting there. And i probably should have been like, are you ok? can i help you with that? But he was right THERE.  Sitting with a head wound.  And i was like, mister, you have had a bad day

SEAN: I once sat next to somebody who was clearly not very wealthy and their coat was dirty and the seat was tight so we were pressed against each other. I looked over and saw that all the little dust on his coat was squirming.  He was covered in tiny little maggots. I jumped up and went as far away as i could, which was probably 18 inches.  And that was that. I didn't say anything.  What do you do? I was just like, nope, not the seat for me.  

JEN: And.. you're repulsed but it's also, like-

SEAN: -really sad about them.  Like aw man, you've got maggots all over you. There's something Christian, some impulse like--oh, should i have given him my coat? And it just seems like there are more problems there than you can begin to address.  

JEN: Well i think the initial christian impulse, one that is important and must happen before anything else is to see things like this and say, oh, you're a person. This is happening to you and i feel this way, and also, you're a person.  And i'm a person. And we're here together. We might be next door neighbors.  And i'm sorry that this is happening to you. 

SEAN: At the same time you can't just go around giving away your coat everyday. You'd see somebody every day to give your coat to. 

JEN: And that's what i miss.  I wasn't very good at being "charitable" in the coat-giving sense.  But what it did for me was make me see them as people, as fellow human beings. Brothers and sisters, you might say.  

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