Over the last few months I've been somewhat nostalgic as I contemplate which city(ies) I'd like to visit this year. Over the last couple of years I've spent my time in large cities, Chicago and New York with the occasional trip to Las Vegas, and as I look back on these trips I can't help but compare them all to one another and to my hometown, Dallas. They are all large in respect to populations but the density between them is like night and day, or at least day evening and night. Chicago is like NYC’s cleaner, nicer little brother. Dallas is simply the cousin from another part of the country, a little younger with some similarities but ultimately different.
As I sit back and think of my trips to NYC I can't help but wonder about the different feelings, the different sensations one gets when in another city. I joked about the herd mentality I witnessed after arriving in the city, groups of people huddled close together at a stop light, inching closer and closer into the street as they wait for the signal to turn from green to yellow… then suddenly they all flock into the street and onto the other side as soon as it does. I found it hilarious, until I realized I was part of it. I found myself leading the herd at one point. How? Why? I can’t really explain it other than I was consumed by the feeling of ... belonging? Immersed in the culture that is New York, diverse, vibrant, fast…? Till this very day I can’t really pinpoint what it was, but I do know that I feel different when I’m in that city, and every city.
Looking back all of the movies, books, research papers, photos and stories presented a false view of the city I encountered. I was so caught up in all the wonders I'd read about, the buildings, the people, the traffic, the sites, that I completely missed the city part. At the end of the day NYC as we know it isn't necessarily the city that is presented to us. In reality it is a dirty foul smelling place, a place that is literally built on trash in some places. I love Manhattan, it’s a great place, but I don’t think I could ever live there. The subway system is great but having the option to walk to work would be nicer. I’ve heard horror stories about the sacrifices people make to live in the city. Those who aren’t willing to make the sacrifice are stuck commuting for 40+ minutes each way in some cases. Those who do make the sacrifice live, well, they live in trash? Some don’t. The most affluent live in beautiful neighborhoods around Central Park, Chelsea or Battery City Park, but what about the rest? Does it matter? Every city has it’s bad neighborhoods right? Except in most cases those “bad” neighborhoods are reserved for the lowest of incomes. In Manhattan those trash filled and foul smelling neighborhoods are inhabited by a fairly well off crowd. It doesn’t make any sense, not to me at least.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I need to go back, spend more time doing local stuff like grocery shopping, jogging or simply hanging out. Afterall, most people seem to be content with living in the city, at least they act like they are. I guess I won’t know until I give it a shot. For now I will continue to be delirious and hold NYC on a trash filled pedestal, because in the end… as nasty and foul smelling it may be, I still Love it!