06 June 2006

Two Coloradoans in New York City.

Images of our recent visit to New York City wash back and forth across my mind. People in New York put on a different facade than do those in Boulder. Many women wear dark slacks, tailored but often mussed shirts, something funky in the outfit - pointy shoes, flowered purse, loud scarf. Men wear jeans or slacks with blazers, some women wear the same, or perhaps a jean jacket over any-length skirt. One day was very hot, and still, the New Yorkers wore clothing to cover their bodies. I saw few of the double-tank tops and bare midriffs that are rampant in Boulder.

Such a jumble of buildings and cars and people. New Yorkers look straight ahead as they walk the crowded streets. No last minute decisions to veer left or right to let you pass, their path was decided according their line of sight and we learned to watch those lines of sight so that we too could flow smoothly through the crowds. Cabbies nosed through crowds of people in crosswalks: no state law to protect pedestrians there.

Most shopkeepers did not make eye contact or respond to small talk, no one wanted to know anything about us. The people at the information desks at the museums seemed exasperated when we could not follow their directions, they thought we were bemused hicks. There were a couple notable exceptions, the soup-man, a couple waitresses, a museum security guard.

I don't remember a single time that a native smiled at me on the street. This made it surprising when a man came up to John and me on the subway and said with a smile "You two look good together, keep it up!" Just when we thought we had New Yorkers figured out, they threw us a curved ball.

uptown Manhattan

Back in Boulder, standing in line for fish tacos. Everyone here looks like they are about to go for a hike. Columbia shorts, backpacks, water bottles, bike helmets. Tanned Caucasian skin. "I'm sorry" when you bump into someone (because we do bump into each other, because we work so hard to correct our path not to bump into each other).

Today I sit at my computer and look across to the mountain, probably thirty New York city blocks away. With highrises, imagine how many people could fit in those thirty blocks. Instead I see three, four houses. And the rest is empty fields. I hope it stays that way for hundreds of years, with only the wind to wash back and forth across the grasses and the sage.

streets of Manhattan

John, the first day, before we learned to look only ahead.

looking upwards

We did a lot of this the first days, totally touristy, our heads bent back, gazing at the tall buildings.

Late note:

Reading this over, it sounds like I didn't enjoy our trip. Quite the contrary! I liked the feeling of anonymity, and I found the NY attitudes refreshing and fascinating (why are we so dang friendly here anyway?) The New Yorkers that we talked to individually were very friendly. I loved the museums and national monuments and the idea of New York itself. It's such a different way to live, it's not better or worse than here, just different.


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