From Bali to New York: Notes on Re-Entering.
Why is everything so fast? Why are so many people crammed into such a small space? Why am I hyperventilating?
My first day back in Brooklyn I was excited. I ran out to go check my mentor at my alma mater, LIU (Long Island University) then decided to walk around DUMBO to see how the neighborhood has changed. I made it a whole four blocks before I had to retreat into the apartment.
I texted my friend, “I need to lie down. New York has chewed me up and spat me out.”
In those four blocks I almost got ran over twice, by a bicycle messenger and an MTA bus. I was thoroughly overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. My senses were thoroughly overloaded. I decided to take my re-emergence slowly. I had had every intention of meeting up with friends and family my first week, but I quickly realized that that wasn’t going to happen. I could only manage one meet up a day then it switched to every other day because I needed a day to recover from the previous meet-up.
Re-acquainting with the NYC Subway Culture
The subway was weird. After living in New York for 18 years, I should know it right? But alas, I stepped into the treacherous bowels of the New York subway with trepidation in my stomach. I had quickly forgotten about the subway culture. Out of sight, out of mind.
Don’t stand too close to the platform edge.
-No eye contact. (Oh shit, I just locked eyes with a creepy looking man with his hand down his pants.)
-Always have a distraction so you can avoid eye contact, music, and a book, games on your phone.
-If you have no distraction, look at your hands.
-Know exactly which car and which door to board on so you will be close to your exit.
-I did none of those things. I remain an avid observer on the subway because New Yorkers are a funny set of people. I felt as if I was watching repeated patterns of behavior over and over.
Side note: Why do we need distractions? Everyone looks the same being busy. I love hearing snippets of people’s conversations. Random words thrown together are fascinating to me. I like being present and aware of my surroundings.
I walk at a much slower pace than the average New Yorker and people just speed right by me like a rock sitting in the middle of a stream. I get jostled and bounced on stairs because of my sauntering.
People talk miles a minute and it’s hard to catch up. They get annoyed at me at Chipotle because I take a few moments to decide if I want extra guacamole for $2 and even more so when I reach to take out my money.
Why do y’all need so much?
Can we talk about the amount of things people have? Why do you need four bottles of lotions, twelve handbags and a closet full of shoes? I used to live like that and it wasn’t until I packed up my apartment and moved and stood in the midst of my piles clothes, books, shoes, and stuff that I realized how much I had. I visit my friends’ and family’s homes and there’s just so much stuff. Consumerism is crazy here. I find myself being sucked in as well. Since arriving in NY I’ve bought six pairs of shoes. Granted, they are all closed toes shoes, since I’ve been living the shorts and slippers (sandals) life for a few years now. But they are all so cute! See what I mean? I am not buying any more shoes. Mark my words. I do need winter gear and will spend some money on that, but nothing unnecessary. I don’t want to be wearing the same things over and over again, being fashionable is important to me. So I’ll be patrolling this “30 looks in 30 days with the same old clothes” for inspirations. I am embarking on living a minimistic life in New York City, the belly of the beast of consumerism.
I refuse to return to my former hardened New York demeanor. I am not the same person before I left and can bring more sweetness that didn’t exist within my personality.
These days, I make eye connection and smile, not a terse smile of just spreading my lips, but a genuine smile and that throws strangers off. Undaunted, I will continue to do so. I see how I used to be a snarky and skeptical New Yorker and I will strive to connect more with people’s humanity. That is a part of myself I found in Bali, the part that dropped her armor and mask and allowed people to get close to her.
I’m not thinking about the future in terms how much my 401K can stretch to cover my retirement. I am thinking of which beachfront property I can own. Because, let’s face it, I’m island baby, forever seeking luminous sunsets.
I am thinking about setting roots and have one foot in America and the other someplace else. Bali? Maybe. There is more for me to discover there. More about myself that I need to unearth. So for now, I will hunker down in New York, be around my friends and family and let them “see my face “as my aunt would say.