Sunday, August 2, 2009

NYC: Simple (?!) Yet Satisfying

So, I'm not quite New York material and will never think of myself as a New Yorker (no matter how long I stay out here). Nevertheless, I'm approaching a big milestone in my jump across the continent – 1 week (ok, so it's not much of a milestone) – and figured it was about time I lay out some of my thoughts, criticisms and observations. In between the crack of lightning and downpours, I've managed to familiarize myself with my neighborhood and at least get the feeling that I'm generally happy in my new environment. While the Upper West Side isn't the spot for nightlife (at least compared to the Villages), it offers quite a lot in character. Culturally and ethnically diverse, my part of Manhattan offers quite a bit in terms of people watching and sight-seeing. Sure, you won't find anything that compares in reputation or is as tourist-tempting as the Statue of Liberty or Ground Zero for the Twin Towers, but I tend to find all the small mom & pops shops that have been around for ages just as intriguing. There's quite a lot to be said for and appreciated in this bustling, mid- to low income neighborhood that is a short subway ride from the heart of the world's most mega metropolis.

Though the buildings lack doormen and the people who own dogs actually walk their own dogs, the area is rich in what I feel are more attractive and desirable practices. Families sit on their stoops eating, sewing, sweating, and talking on the humid summer evenings. Kids wander on foot, in small groups to parks and summer camps. No drivers, no parents. Kids being kids, enjoying their time off of school. Everyone seems to know everyone (except for the new whiteboy who appears to be wearing slippers with some guys name on the back, TOM somebody). It really is exactly what I thought life in New York City would be based on my convoluted image from movies, books and stories from my Dad (who grew up in the Bronx).

A few other noteworthy observations:

• I love that old men stand on street corners, beads of sweat rolling down their cheeks, wife beater t-shirt clinging to their back, arguing in Spanish over God knows what.
• I appreciate how the bricks are exposed and aged, and the majority of the buildings have managed to avoid a makeover.
• I'm even enjoying that the square footage of my entire apartment rivals that of an Orange County master bedroom.
• Having Central Park just two blocks away has reinvigorated my motivation to run. It's so odd to be running on tree-covered trails in the middle of a major city. The juxtaposition of city and nature is so bizarre.
• I really hope that the Yankees and Angels meet up in the playoffs because I'd be interested to see the reaction I'd get for walking down the street with a Halos cap on my head. Then again, maybe I'd rather live through spring.

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