I've been living on the Upper West Side since Friday night, cat-sitting for a friend. Kind of the perfect situation and I really lucked out. So far, I've lived in the East Village, Upper East Side and Chelsea. Hmm.. What's next? I'm not going to get into how confused I am. I'm pretty sure they put some sort of addictive substances in the New York water because there's no logical explanation as to why this city has such a strong pull on me when I was so gong-ho about San Francisco - At a time when the garbage hasn't been collected, it's 30 degrees and the curbs are full of murky, cold puddles. Oh yeah, I know.. it's the people. While I've met many cool people in San Francisco and I'm sure I have yet to meet many more, the fact remains that I have so many friends here and have built relationships in every area of my life during the five years that I've been here. Good thing I just have to leave things up to the job market, at this point.
So I was taking the 2 train which I rarely ever take - whole different crew from the 4/5/6 and noticed an interesting scene. It was about five, very charged, minutes on the subway ride that said so much about New York and what makes it so interesting. A (presumably) Orthodox woman was with her young child who was cranky and misbehaving in his stroller. He was about 3 years old and wouldn't sit still and kept accidentally kicking me. A black man with tattoos all over his body including tear marks near his eyes, started speaking to the pretty, young, blond woman, telling her to control her child. He was swearing at her and mumbling about white women not being able to control their children and how the children needed to be smacked around. Her response was that her son was tired and cranky and she sounded kind and exhausted, not wanting to get into an argument. I stood in the middle of them hoping it wouldn't escalate but wondering what I'd do or say if it did. On the way out, I looked back to see the mother with her son talking and laughing with another black woman who also had a child, presumably bonding and making friends over the situation.
New York is obviously incredibly diverse as a whole but each neighborhood is fairly segregated. I'm pretty sure my home town in Northern, NJ was more racially diverse than the Upper East Side but we came from similar places economically which at least united us in some way. But on the subway, there are people coming on from Brooklyn, to Manhattan, to Harlem, to the Bronx, & Queens. It unites us all. It's a place where stereotypes and frustrations all come out, where rich businessmen are tightly squeezed next to Bronx gang members, who are tightly squeezed next to Jewish mothers, who are tightly squeezed next to millions of other people that don't fit or defy stereotypes. So as addicting as the sound effects are to Angry Birds, turn down your phone and listen to what's around you. You may learn something.