Life in the Big City

Toto, I don't think we're in Northampton anymore.

No matter how idyllic one finds life in the little city, sometimes you need a dose of life in the big city. So the family took a trip to New York to kick off spring break. It was like most of our trips to New York, with lots of love for the city and amazing little moments, and plenty of frustration: Ted’s awe at the Guggenheim (he’s a Frank Lloyd Wright fan, go figure), the quiet of Sunday morning in the city, breaking Passover with Joe’s Pizza in the Village, malts at the Lexington Candy Store, and happening upon a rehearsal of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Washington Square Park. There was also too much walking, too much whining, and too many problematic meal choices.

As always, New York inspired a host of questions. Feel free to answer them. Or pose more.

Who are all these people? How did they get here? (If I had my way, everyone in the city would walk around with a bubble over their heads—à la Pop Up Video—noting who they are, where they are from, and how they came to be in the city at that moment.)

How can anyone afford to live in New York City?

How can there be enough rich people to fill all of those high-rise apartments, especially the ridiculous number of Trump Towers along the Henry Hudson Parkway?

Why do so many of them drive Porsches?

Why are there so many Porsche SUVs?

What kind of idiot drives an SUV in NYC?

What happens if there is a car accident? Does the whole city come to a standstill? It seems pretty clear that if one car stops for more than 3 minutes, all traffic stops everywhere.

How did my teenager get obsessed with high-end shoes, high-end headphones, and high-end cars?

With so many churches, bakeries, and gelato shops, how come everyone isn’t devout and/or fat?

How do those women walk more than ten feet in those shoes?

How do you do anything without getting totally overwhelmed by the options?

Where do all of the waiters and baristas, et al. live? They can’t possibly afford to live in the city.

Why is everyone speaking French?

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6 Responses to Life in the Big City

  1. Debra says:

    Megan, I have lived there during two formative periods of my life, and can answer a few of these questions. For now, I’ll just tackle one, because before I lived in NYC, I often wondered it myself: “How do you do anything without getting totally overwhelmed by the options?” Riding around the city as a visiting kid with my parents, I used to wonder how in the world all those shoe repair shops, drugstores, bakeries, etc, could all survive? And how did you know which one to go to? When I lived there, I discovered something that explained it: each five-block area is its own small town. That’s the distance a city-dweller can walk in about ten minutes, and that’s how long you’ll go for a shoe repair, a bottle of Tylenol, or coffee and a muffin. And that’s how you feel like a human amid those masses–because they know you at your bakery and your shoe repair shop. Not the drugstore though…Duane Reade employees must be trained not to recognize the humanity of their customers.

    Hope that answers at least one of your questions!

  2. sarahbutten says:

    I feel as if you have posed the BIG questions here. I hope you write a follow-up post when you get some answers. I’m always amazed by 1) all the tall buildings, 2) the fact that the place kind of runs all day AND all night, 3) the number of unappealing salad bars.

  3. Em says:

    I can answer one more: those Trump high rises on the Hudson are mostly empty. And it’s a weird lame ghost-town around there. They now block the view of my dad’s not-fancy high-rise on West End. I grew up in Queens, and when I lived in Bklyn as an adult–and these days when I visit–I always wish people had to wear little signboards explaining who they were and how I was connected to them. Oh, and people don’t get as fat as they do elsewhere because they walk everywhere! It’s the thing I miss the most. And the commute / reading time. Okay, I answered more than one.

  4. litlc says:

    Oooh, I love these answers. Merci! Though not the fact of the view-blocking Trump ghost-town.

  5. Jo says:

    I’ve always wanted cars in Los Angeles to have big LCD signs on top explaining where they can all possibly be going. Especially at two in the morning. I suspect it would mess with the aerodynamics, though.

  6. Lisa says:

    After 17 years in NYC I cannot answer any of these questions, and can add a few of my own: when driving along the Cross Bronx Expressway I frequently see one shoe on the shoulder of the road. Where is the other shoe? And how did that one shoe get there? Did it get thrown out of a window? Was someone trying to walk on Bruckner Boulevard and decide to go bare footin’? And I also wonder about those people with big dogs you see in Central Park. Do they really have apartments of comparable size?

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