Big changes

Getting jaded about New York is standard for those living and working here. The mass of people, the noise, the smells—it’s enough to chase away those with weaker constitutions. Or wear them down to a point where there’s little left but a shell.

My walk to the office in the mornings takes me through Times Square. Mornings are bearable–the early birds are out taking pictures in the middle of the street, or trying to mug for TV cameras, hoping friends back home will text that they saw them. Afternoons are different–masses of tourists, with harried office workers jostling to find a path home. Enough of that will make you jaded.

Yet, after 18 months of this–commuting into the city–I haven’t become that jaded, worn-down soul. I don’t think so, at least. The tides of people pouring out from underground onto the streets is overwhelming, especially for a country boy like me.

Fifteen years ago this summer, I came to the City for the first time, on an internship. I didn’t process the temporary transition from tiny town to largest city in America completely under I was standing on a train platform in Philadelphia, less than two hours away (a new experience in itself.) The intern residency was complete, and now it was time to be unleashed into a corporate environment.

But first, I had to use every ounce of strength I had not to cry on that platform. What in the he’ll was I doing, thinking I would spent 10 weeks in a city where the rumor was they ate newbies alive? I was scared out of my mind. The small town kid wasn’t sure, but he got on the train anyway.

While the foreign New Jersey landscape whizzed by, the lady sitting beside me ask me where I was going. I must have appeared terrified to her. And though I can’t remember our conversation, I remember being put at ease by her, enough that I calmed down by the time the train reached Penn Station. Calm, that is, until I took my first New York City cab ride. I don’t ride roller coasters, and that ride from Midtown to Lower Manhattan was the reason why.

Once I got settled into my digs, I went to the office to see my boss. He asked me how I was finding things. I told him that New York is a very intimidating place. He said, it’s supposed to be.

Great.

That first weekend was a blur–the World Trade Center observation deck, Battery Park, coming out of the subway, wanting to go one way, but the crowd forcing me half a block in the other direction. The 10 weeks passed quickly, and I survived it. And loved it enough that the company hired me a year later.

The changes that occur in life tend to be subtle, like a gentle snow. Liking–loving–New York is like that for me. The jazz, the dinners, the drinks, the sitting in the parks, the late nights coming home. It adds up. The relationship isn’t without strains–the beating my wallet sometimes takes, the aforementioned noise and smells, the slow-walking tourists. The crushing weight of sensory overload. The pluses have outweighed the minuses over the years. The experience of being in New York has been worth the journey.

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