Tuesday, June 2, 2009
A Kinder, Gentler New York
Hats off to you, Mr. Bloomberg!
Five years ago I went to New York. It was a depressing and aggravating trip. Typical rudeness, filthy, bums everywhere, and to top it off, we got stuck in the middle of the Puerto Rican Day parade (you may remember this on the news where women were being sexually assaulted in the middle of the parade.)
Street preachers yelled at passersby as they openly smoked pot, "You better change your ways before you blaze that haze!" My children can still recite that one. Sigh.
This last weekend was completely different. We stayed in Long Island and took the subway into Manhattan. I was apprehensive. My last subway trip was less than comforting. Addicts standing up to ask for money. Although, I have to admit that the one man who stood up and said, "I'm not going to lie to you. I need money for a drink." got five bucks from me. I felt the same way after being on the subway for just 10 minutes.
This time, though, the subways were clean and devoid of panhandlers. A few stops had musicians playing for their supper. Saxophones playing soft jazz in the subway almost made it feel like a 1940 train ride. I looked around for Bogart.
The city was different too. Friendly New Yorkers saying hi and holding the door open for me. The kindness infected the subway system too where strangers were literally arguing over offering a seat to my children and me.
This infection seemed to carry into Central Park where street musicians asked my son and husband to play with them... and later, running into that same musician at the Staten Island Ferry terminal, the infection actually caused him to give us a free CD.
Things got really weird when the waiter at Carnegie Deli said he wasn't charging us for "sharing".
I started wondering if pod people had taken over. Even the taxi drivers were nice. SO nice in fact, that we DROVE in Manhattan.
With that said, I was glad to be home. New York, in all its splendor, is just too much input for me. Central Park was a needed refuge and I found myself mentally shutting down after being exposed to so much sound, lights, signs, smells (one thing that does need improvement, Mr. Bloomberg - the urine smell from the dogs and the homeless), and touches (people bumping into me.)
I needed the solace of home where I could control the input.
Even so, New York earned its title of "The City So Nice, They Named It Twice" this weekend.
We had a blast.