Wading through bustling crowds in the middle of Manhattan on my second day in New York, I couldn’t help but long for home.
Perhaps it was the 26 hours of flying? It might have been the sheer volume or the attitude of some of people, or even my initial misadventures of the train system (these continue and will probably do so until I come home), but the big city felt like it was going to swallow me whole and feed my remains to the subway rats.*
The first day, having set out to reach Manhattan Island, I inadvertently took a walking tour of the Bronx – lovely in its own right but the opposite direction to where I needed to be. I’ve since repeated this mistake, most recently at 2 in the morning after returning from a trip out of town to view several thousand pumpkins pretty late at night. I’ll elaborate on that experience another time.
Everybody is different, but I’ve found the key to enjoying New York (and I really am – go Cubs!) as a solo traveller to be accepting that you’re not going to fit and watching it all go by.
Below is a list of unexpected observations I’ve made from doing just that. See below.
NY vs brunch:
Honestly from what I’ve heard come out of the mouths of passers-by it feels like brunch is almost as contentious an issue for New Yorkers as the upcoming election. Signs at restaurants and corner stores around the city emphasise its presence and everything I’ve read online suggest it to be one of New York’s greatest assets. However, the word on the street states otherwise. I’ve overheard three conversations about brunch, all of which had negative undertones. One guy walking home from an ice hockey game was frustrated by brunch because it threw out the balance between breakfast and lunch. One young professional on the subway hated brunch food but liked the idea of being able to drink in the day (??).
“Fuck hollandaise,” she proclaimed loudly on the train. Her friends/colleagues/train peers concurred, and a half-baked apology to anyone who didn’t share her views within earshot seemed to fall on deaf, anti-brunch ears.
I’m going to go for brunch on the weekend and explore this phenomenon in more depth. Stay tuned.
Sport sport sport sport:
New Yorkers seem from the outside to have a really insular pride in what their city stands for and what it means to live in New York. Nowhere does this manifest itself more prominently than in the passionate support of sport fans living in the big city. It’s near impossible to board a train without coming across a Yankees hat, a Mets shirt or a Rangers beanie, and while I’m sure there are plenty (probably several million) people living in New York with no interest in sport, these people are understandably harder to spot.
I’m doing a Rangers game tomorrow and a Nets game on election day. Is Linsanity still a thing? Are some sports greater than others? I’ll probably gain some more insight into these pressing matters over the coming days.
Maybe I was ignorant coming in, but from the outside New York comes across far more culturally diverse than I ever expected. Entire neighbourhoods, including the one I’m staying in, are essentially multi-lingual, and significant communities of people from all over the world have built lives for themselves in the Big Apple. It’s really impressive, and unlike anything I’ve really seen in any other major city I’ve visited. I don’t know how a wall would impact that but I can’t imagine it would help.
I’m enjoying New York from the outside, and despite a lack of real conversation I figure that’s where I’d like to stay. There’s so much more to write but this is already at 650+ words, so I’ll save it for the coming week. Thanks for reading.
*Rat City: I was keeping a tally of the amount of rats and squirrels I saw but then I went into the subway at night and couldn’t even count all of the rats. They’re physically huge as well. It’s comforting to know there’s plenty of support around should some adolescent turtles happen to find themselves exposed to chemicals and mutated.
On the other end of the spectrum I’ve seen three squirrels so far. Hoping Central Park will help balance the ledger slightly in the coming days.