“When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough.”–Fran Lebowitz
I love the smell of the SUBWAY.
The way it makes me feel disgusting and itchy at the mere hour of 9am after my loyal alarm clock has woken me up for some quality time with my loofah. How it brings those dolled up, high healers, who are painted with pounds of colorful over-the-counter cosmetics back down to reality. Down here, even the most expensive bottle of toilet water, Chanel # 5, can’t make you any cleaner, any more well off than the rest of us. Because come 9:15 am, you will exit this rat infested, urine stained, trash collecting hole smelling like it, but at least that’s what all of us morning-miserable straphangers have in common. We all smell.
I’m fascinated by TOURISTS, the bobbing and weaving through mass hurdles of clouds of people all wearing clothes they would never wear commuting in their real daily lives. Fanny packs, I heart NYC shirts, Capri pants on men. A wild combo of all three. A walk home from work is a walk through the parade of Nations during the Olympics. The unintentional culture lesson of foreign tongue, habits, family dynamics. The passing of travelers and their most adventurous attitudes. All the baby steps forward and back, trying to figure out which way is the Empire State building, the square of time. To them, a crack in the sidewalk warrants a photo opp and a few spare coins is enough to make a difference in some persuasive begger’s life. The ones who travel here are the ones who see the things we see daily, differently. We sit quietly stuffed between couch cushions on the 100th floor of buildings that they crawl the streets below, anxious for the history, the stories, the textures, the nonsensical structure that holds this city together. While we who reside lack the time to let ourselves go, go explore.
I appreciate OVERPRICED things, because they finally blister into our head that they are just that, things. Nothing here goes on clearance. As if one day your land lord will phone you and say, “Hey Jen, rent this month if 50% off”. You become picky, as you should be, and what you want is only determined after you can afford what you need. A roof over my head costs me 3/4 of my monthly paycheck, therefore what I am allowed to want the rest of the month will be worthwhile as much as it will be appreciated. The way saving up enough money for a glow in the dark yo-yo was in the 3rd grade.
It’s nice to not say SORRY for your fast paced, always in a rush mistakes. Bumping into strangers, grinding your size 10 sneakers on top of their bony feet, knocking over their fresh vanilla late with your elbows. When you become part of the lint that clings on to this city, you no longer have the time, the energy, the focus to say “sorry”. Instead, you learn to walk a little faster and hold on tighter to the things that really matter to you, letting the disposable go at the sudden push of another.
The feeling of getting lost in a CROWD, the oddity of how synchronized the masses of people are here. Most of us, spend too much time standing out. At work, in our group of friends. You can finally be yourself. Recite Shakespeare on the top of your lungs on a packed F train, walk around in a bedazzled leotard and neon tutu, dance the running man and all you’ll earn is less than .0001 seconds of attention, the honking of a needy cab driver.
When you start to see the flaws, the deep rooted pores as merely just that, dents of the past in the halves of the whole. It is then that you can be certain, you are in love (for real) with that noun. That person, that place, that thing.
Writer’s note: I wrote this post the same way I write most of my others, while striding down 6th avenue on my way home from work. Except today I realized the things that should bother me about this place I’m in a full time relationship, don’t. And I’m walking with my headphones in, racing my thumbs along the buttons of my iPhone getting these thoughts out of my head, figuring no one will notice me at my writer’s insanity, just like I won’t ever notice them. That’s when I bump my shoulders into a good friend who scares the plugs out of my ears and the haze of an end of a Monday’s work day right out of me.
As much as we think we are in our own world, a world where we think we get it, where we know it all and no one knows us, we suddenly collide into something that snaps us right out of it. Something that reminds us that we can try to be invisible and smelly and no one will notice and that’s when someone does. On a Monday evening, with itsy bits rain drops falling on your forehead, while your writing about a world you once felt foreign in.
The way you marvel in the things that should make you grin, the way you slowly begin to love the way a new home makes you feel. The hugs of chaotic, smelly, dirt that it splatter paints you with by 6pm.