This week I’ve been spending some serious time exploring New York City. Halfway through, I’m falling in love with this city, and simultaneously realizing that this place might not be for me on any long-term capacity.
There’s a romanticism and history to this city that stirs an inner reflection about where I come from. My great-grandparents came through Ellis Island with droves of others to seek a better future and life for themselves and their children. They came with next to nothing, and New York City was their first open hand for assistance. One of my grandfathers grew up in the city – he still talks about his days playing with friends and going to Columbia University.
Sitting in my travel workstation at the nearest Starbucks, I imagine all those that are joining me here in the city; clicking and clacking away to write a masterpiece, or just a mere blog post. I imagine the start for my grandparents and great-grandparents that often began here in this city of everything.
New York City seems to be a place for connection, and I’m feeling it to my core. The hoards of people aren’t overwhelming and tumultuous; rather, they’re a cacophony of sounds that connect us all. This is what humanity looks like in large numbers, and it’s a beautiful sight. Surprisingly, I’ve loved being surrounded by so many people. Walk down any sidewalk at any point in the day, and you shouldn’t be surprised to find others.
As I drink up all of these wonders and explore the never-ending Central Park, I’m bothered by the city’s powerful emphasis on consumerism. Shiny, glossy, well-lit store fronts are pervasive. They make spending seem appealing, easy. All I want to do is walk around and explore, but in the process, the exposure to advertising and opportunities for purchase are enthralling. Frankly, I’m impressed by the merchandise I see. That spells trouble for my budget.
This city really does have the best of everything. Want to have some of the best French food in America? Go to NYC. How about Thai? Again, try NYC. Want to find a unique, impassioned piece of artwork? You’ll find more than you know what to do with here. Looking for a job in business? This is clearly – still – the epicenter of finance. But it’s not just a home for market makers. Fashion, acting, artists, and writers all can call New York City their home.
As a future psychologist, it’s easy to fall in love with New York City. There are people here that flock to the city and need basic mental and medical care. On any street corner you can see the people of the neighborhoods smiling and chatting each other up. No matter how casual this may be, the community feeling is amazing. You’d think that in this massive populace, something would be lost in connection, but it’s the exact opposite.
I’ve been amazed at the friendliness of New Yorkers. I can walk up to anybody on the street and chat them up. I can ask for directions and great spots, and they’ll all have different suggestions and ideas. People are willing and desiring of connection here. The important difference between New York City and my oh-so-rural place I call home is that people here really make an effort to connect everywhere they go. The local hangouts all seem to be occupied by people that know each other’s names and groups seem to form easily.
The Starbucks I am in is now full. But instead of people standing alone, waiting for tables, they join two-tops and long tables for a congregation of social time, shared. People that have never met before are know conversing and sharing moments – together and in person. It’s easy to love this, and I’ll miss it dearly as I pack up to leave. But, I’ll be happy to be back on my normal budget, too.