Posted tagged ‘leaving NYC’

New York City – How Thoughtful

March 25, 2013


As many of you know, I am soon moving from New York City .  I have worried I will miss it.  Just yesterday, I was feeling especially forlorn, after dinner with a wonderful friend.

But, oh, what a thoughtful City she is.

I trudged down the steps of the subway station at 59th Street, Columbus Circle.

It is a cold, grey station;  last night, there were flaps of yellow tapes blocking off various lines–weekend construction.

The remaining lines all basically parallel each other.  Still, their platforms are at a criss-cross in that station.  If you are a train perfectionist–make that an impatient idiot–you stand at a stairwell in the vague middle of everything  so that when you hear a rumble, you can hightail it down (or up) to dash through some set of grey smeared doors just before they close.

This is a rather dangerous game: you may end up missing both the train you are running towards as well as the one you were originally waiting for.  Still, to a true New Yorker, anything is better than patience.  (In short,  I stood on the stairwell with several other toe-tappers.)

Then came the Number 1.  Fine.  As I dashed/slipped inside, I noticed (vaguely) the conductor making some convoluted announcement about how this train would only go as far as 14th Street–normally, it goes all the way to the bottom of the Island, where I live–and that we should change at 42nd.

The 1 is a local, meaning that the trip to 42nd was slow; stops every few blocks.   The conductor gabbled on about changing, and as we began to pull into 42nd Street, there was, amazingly, a 2 Express also pulling in across the platform.

Wow!   Most of the train stood up.  Most of the train, in fact, leaned towards the glass doors, ready to run.  (We know from experience that we’ll never make it anywhere if we just walk calmly. )

And then, although our train stopped for a palpable instant or more, it suddenly began to lurch again, to stumble further and further into the station.

Shit, the main next to me (pale, unshaven,) cursed.  The other train’s doors were open now.

As our train stopped (finally), sighed (leisurely),–the doors still not open–the doors of the train across slid closed.

The man was really cursing as our conductor began to  explain that this train/ our train would now be making express stops only to 14th Street, and that if anyone wanted any local stops, they should transfer to the 2  (the express) across the platform.  (Of course, the 2  across the platform had already closed its doors.)

At last, ours opened.  People projectiled out.

But it was too late.  (Yes, the 2 just sat there a minute more.  No, it did not open its doors.)

I for one went back to my seat.  If we were going express anyway, we could probably catch up with the 2, I thought.
Except that we sat there until a couple of other 2s went by.

Fine.  Except  when we got to 14th Street, I stepped out to a platform occupied by a sizeable rat. (My car had ended up next to the garbage.)

I jumped back into the train, nearly knocking into the couple behind.

“There’s a rat,” I said breathlessly, and then, with amazing presence of mind, “you go first.”

Thanks God, the Express (running now on the Local track) was also in the station.   The couple, determined, scurried around the rat pillars and into it, with me glomming just behind. .

As I sat down on the new train,I wanted to tell everyone around me about the rat, but they were all tuning out (into iPods or studied disinterest), so I made myself hold in all the excitement.   Only now through the end doors of the car, came a scrawny and somehow flattened middle=aged  woman in a short leopard coat over jeans that showed her to be so knock-kneed that her shins looked like the prongs of a dowser’s fork.

I winced before she even started singing.  She did not have a tuneful voice; the song, moreover, revolved around the line “they can’t take away my dignity.”   (I could not help thinking that she herself was giving that away with two hands.  I knew that was unkind and also dug into my purse for some money.)

And then, at last, my stop.  I stepped gingerly onto the platform that held no rat but a splat of fresh vomit.

New York.

I did not know whether to say please (as in stop) or thank you (for letting me go.)

Leaving NYC Soon (Worried)

March 23, 2013


I am planning to move from New York City in less than a week.  I will still be in and out of the City for work, etc., but I will no longer “maintain an abode” here, as they say in New York City income tax lingo.

I first moved to the City almost thirty-five years ago.  A cheap apartment had become available in my then boyfriend’s building.  (It is amazing how many life decisions are made in New York City based on real estate.)

We only heard about the apartment by chance–we were driving around Idaho when my boyfriend happened to call his super about some mail and found that a fire had burned out a tenant the night before.  (I don’t think the tenant had died, but honestly, I do not remember.  The only thing we focused on at the time was that the apartment was rent-stabilized and that we had better rush.)

Rent-stabilized, at that time anyway, meant cheap, i.e. affordable.

We hopped into my boyfriend’s van and hardly stopped to change drivers.  (The good thing about a van and out West was that two people could wiggle in and out of the driver’s seat with one foot maintaining, more or less, constant pressure on the gas.)

We got back to downtown NYC in fewer hours than should be legal, sweaty, window-blown and reeling from the sudden descent of Eastern skies –all that lowdown leafiness (much less the dinge of Manhattan), and, after delicately slipping a suitable reward to the super (a palm’s wad of crisp twenties), rejoiced.  (Which meant, got some really terrific pizza.)  (There is no pizza like true New York pizza.)

Of course, I couldn’t yet move in–smoke damage–but the apartment–a fifth floor walk-up with the bath tub next to the fridge (i.e. in the kitchen on concrete blocks)–was mine.

And so it went, through thick and thin, leafyness and damage, wads and wads (and wads) of twenties (and larger denominations), until, I realize, I have been here for most of my life.   Not, thankfully, in that apartment.  (Well, maybe I’m not so thankful.  It  really was cheap.)

I am not someone who grew up wanting to live here.  I certainly would not have come in the absence of that apartment (and okay, that boyfriend.)

But people are a bit like plants (or maybe just potatoes) – they are plopped some place and before they know it, they have put down roots, sent forth tendrils.  They entangle with that fence just to the side,  knot in the scraped brickface to the back,  fix themselves into whatever specks of earth (o.k. concrete) their feet find.  There’s inertia, but also–friends, jobs, family, and of course, familiarity — that family feeling we develop for a place, the comfort in our normal routes (even if rushed), the quiet calm that takes over us when our normal seat on the train or in our favorite restaurant is free, and that proud awe, almost a sense of ownership, we assume for wonders we come to know well–the entrances of museums, concert halls, the views down certain avenues or way up over our heads.

I am happy about the move and the fact is that I will still be in the City a great deal.    And yet, another part of me worries – oh yes- that still something may get left behind here, something I don’t know how to pack.

(PS – the above photo was taken a few days ago from Battery Park City, which is where I currently live, and which is absolutely nothing like my original neighborhood in NYC.  BPC is nice in its way too–beautiful–but definitely is lacking in some of the grit and character of that old neighborhood which was at the edge of Little Italy and Chinatown.  More on all that another time, if anyone is interested.)