So. There’s this thing about New Yorkers. You know it, even if you’ve never been here. They’re rough. They’re no-nonsense. They cut to the chase, they don’t pull any punches. Insert cliche about New Yorkers here.
I am not yet this New Yorker, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be. I am 100% embracing my fresh-off-the-boat status and it got to a point tonight, while sitting on a bench in Central Park sort of reading as the city whirred by around me, that I honestly could not contain it.
I started staring. At the people walking by, what they were wearing, what they were saying, how quickly or leisurely they passed by, whether their feet hurt, what their plans might be for the evening. At the buildings lining Central Park East, the way the sun glints off the windows and terraces as it set on another city day. At the kids on their skateboards in Columbus Circle, trying to one-up each other on their tricks and flips. The cabs zipping by, the babies in strollers, the tourists holding up sidewalks teeming with pedestrians to snap their group photo.
I started smiling. Like a goofball. I starting giggling. I watched the kids slide down the slide in the park and I smiled. I watched the dogs trot by, wag their hellos at each other and I smiled. I smiled watching couples holding hands, or eating dinner on the rocks or jogging together. I didn’t even try to stop my mouth from turning up at the corners.
I want to Instagram every misspelled sign (today, in the diner bathroom: “Out of Serves”), every random graffiti, every bustling street corner, every picturesque building and statue and hidden courtyard. I want to tweet all the daily moments that have woken up my once-mundane routine, how today I walked through Times Square to get to a voice session, how I carried a shoe rack on the subway because how else was I supposed to get it home?, how studio living might just be the best idea ever, at least until you want to host Thanksgiving dinner.
I sat on that bench in Central Park, the sounds of the city coming at me from every side (because unlike every other New Yorker on their own I did not at that time have headphones in) and I felt nothing but potential. I don’t know how else to put it. I felt weightless, limitless, completely at ease, completely content with the moment, with me and my relationship to that moment.
New Yorkers have mastered the art of looking unaffected. I am not yet that New Yorker. Not one bit.