I used to read more blogs than I do now. Somehow the old “blogging RV community” has shifted and changed. A lot. But that is another story. The first reason for choosing to read a blog is that the person writing is a friend. Usually someone I have met in person and developed a relationship with. A bit vaguer second criterion is that the person writes more than “we went here, we did this.” My writing can slip into this as well, especially when we are going and seeing and doing at the pace we have been for the last week. Maybe that is why writing can be so daunting at times like these.
My daughter Melody said this morning that she can’t wait to hear what I think of New York City. I have only seen the City from the perspective of a tourist. One that is ferried around in a giant shiny bus, with a driver that negotiates the crazy traffic, tunnels, and tiny lanes with incredible expertise. I have visited most sites with a guide and a map and a timetable. It probably isn’t the best way to immerse in a great city. Mo and I walked the streets and trains of Washington DC, Bangkok, Thailand, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and many others on our own. Daughter Deanna and I walked the streets of Florence and hiked the steep trails of the Amalfi coast on our own, and daughter Melody and I braved Vienna, Budapest, and Prague without the benefit of a bus or a guide. But New York City is another beast entirely. After more than a week as a tourist, I still know that tackling this city on my own would be daunting.
What strikes me the most, however, and what I love most is the diversity. I love sitting in a restaurant and hearing at least three languages that I don’t recognize. I love the complex tapestry of all types of people wearing all types of clothes. Gorgeous black women flaunting their beauty, long black dreds and skimpy dresses barely covering strong bodies. Indian women in saris weaving among the Wall Street types in suits and ties. Middle Eastern men cooking hot halal food on the corners from street carts. I learned that “Halal” is for Muslims and “kosher” is for Jewish people.
I do love that live theater is everywhere, all through the city, not just on “Broadway” even though they say ‘On Broadway”. Our show was on 52nd street and was wild with the energy of the crowd who loved the star of the show and showed it with six standing ovations. I loved seeing so many gorgeous young girls and adorable young men in all sorts of clothes, gay couples holding hands openly as they walked the streets.
I loved the incredible diversity of restaurants, from tiny hole-in-the-wall pizza counters to restaurants so expensive I couldn’t even afford to look at the menu, all on the same street.
I know that if I had the time I would love the culture of magnificent art and history museums, and tiny little spots telling stories of the history of the area. I would love to spend more time in the parks, not just Central Park, but Bryant Park and so many others. Yesterday as we passed Bryant Park, I saw a woman maybe my age, a bit dowdy in ordinary clothes sitting at a tiny table engaged in a focused conversation with a very black man with dreds and tattoos. They appeared to be the best of friends. Where I live in Grants Pass people of color other than Hispanic are so rare that it is impossible to sit with them at a table, much less become friends.
I love that all this energy, diversity, and culture in Manhattan is located in just 22.8 square miles, 13.4 miles long, and 2.3 miles wide. I drive more than 25 miles to get to Costco, and my most used grocery store in my town of Grants Pass is 3 miles away. I try to picture the complexity and population of the width of Manhattan with the distance to the grocery store in Grants Pass. That is an image that sticks with me about what New York City is like and how I feel about it.
While waiting in line for the loo at the theater during intermission, I talked with a young man who has lived in the City for five years. I asked him what he thought of living here. Of course, he loves it. He is a theater geek. I think for people who love theater, who envision getting a role on Broadway or off Broadway or anywhere in the City, living here is a priority. For musicians who study here, for anyone into “the arts” of any form, these people love the energy and vitality of this city. For people in Finance and in Advertising, it is the mecca, the center of their world. They fill the tiny apartments that rent for an average of 4,000 a month for 450 square feet and feel lucky to live here.
There are many great cities in the world and New York City is definitely one of them. I wouldn’t choose to live here, but I understand why some people would absolutely love it. Not only people who were raised here never learned to drive, and know nothing else. But also people who came here from the hinterlands to bury themselves in the high-energy, vital, crazy environment that is New York City and love it.
My friend Jeanne was raised nearby in New Jersey, and left the minute she was old enough to drive. I left the LA area for many of the same reasons when I was just 16. It is all about what fits your soul the best. I can imagine that my youngest, who asked this question, who loves theater and music and art, but also loves to be alone in uncrowded spaces might like it here a lot. For a bit. Who knows, but my guess is that she will never have to make that decision.
My view from the RV door at our crowded site in New Jersey as I write at 4 am
There will be more blogs in the coming days. Many of them with “we did this” “we did that” and a lot of photos. Hopefully, I will eventually get a signal that allows me the luxury of uploading photos and adding them to a blog post that doesn’t take three days to get actually uploaded and posted. But in the meantime, I needed to get these thoughts written down while they were still fresh.