I keep saying how hard this place is to adjust to. But I haven’t mentioned two really cool behaviors that I have noticed since I have been here. Manners and chivalry are alive in New York!
- There is a coat closet at every office. Not only is there a coat closet…they USE it! They always ask to take and hang up coats! (every time I have visited an office for any reason this has happened) Now that I have been working reception, it is my job to take coats and hang them. I LOVE this! It is so impressive to me, and feels old-fashioned and sweet.
- Secondly, the elevator etiquette is so surprising. Men let women on the elevator first, and wait until all of the women are off before they exit. Can you believe this? I have noticed it every single place that had an elevator. All over the city. It is so charming to me!
I think these behaviors still exist because this city is so old and these classic manners are rooted as a cultural norm. These behaviors feel old-fashioned…because they are. I feel taken care of when someone takes my coat, and I feel respected when I get off of the elevator first. New York is making me smile today.
When the train zips over the Manhattan bridge and you can see the skyline of Downtown and a glint of the green from the Statue of Liberty, that is when I remember that I’m here. I’m here! It is easy to forget the simple fact that I live here now. I need to focus more upon living in the moment, and letting these flashes of New York sear into me.
I have been temping again this week, but it is an entirely different experience than my first assignment. I was able to come in for an hour last Friday for training (which was a very welcome task for me) and I did not expect the delightful experience that I had. A smiling face greeted me and offered me coffee, and one of the first thing she said was,
“Now where are you from? I know you aren’t from here, you don’t look jaded.”
I told here where I was from, and she asked questions, and I felt like she actually cared. It felt so good to talk to someone with such a cheerful personality. I felt like she actually saw me. She gave me shampoo samples (it is a high-end shampoo company) and sent me on my way feeling refreshed and nourished.
The company is in the meatpacking district, my favorite part of the city so far. As I walked away and had a silly grin on my face because I was so happy to have a job that was actually going to be pleasant. I looked up and noticed that a huge crew of people were setting up to shoot a movie right outside of the building! Tents were being set up, and the street was lined with trailers where I’m assuming an A-lister was sitting right inside. I didn’t stick around to see who was being filmed, but in that moment I was so deliriously happy to be in this city of opportunity. It was the perfect timing for me to receive the spark of a “New York moment.”
I saw my first musical improv show at The Pit, and it was amazing. There are so many amazing people here that are following their dreams! I was also able to see Beauty and the Beast on Broadway this weekend, and it was incredible. I sat in my chair in wonder at the talent of the actors, and the beauty of the theater. Yesterday I ate lunch at Chelsea Market, and it reminded me a lot of Pikes Place Market in Seattle.
I am going to focus more upon looking around and really seeing New York…because, I’m here!
I have had people ask my, “What makes New York so hard to adjust to?” Everything is different. It feel like I am in a different country.
The main difference is space. You are in such close proximity to people in this city. You are forced to interact with people in a whole different way than in most other places. I am from the suburbs of Denver-not even the city. If I sat on a table for four at Starbucks in Colorado-I could be assured that no one would sit at my table with me, no matter how busy the lobby was. Here in New York, they don’t have the spacial luxuries to have a personal bubble. Every table, every chair, every bench bar stool, and sidewalk are full of people. New Yorkers seem to be void of spacial anxieties that most suburbanites have. This is both a beautiful thing and undeniably uncomfortable for me to get used to. I keep wondering how much my life would be different if I grew up here. You are exposed to people in a way that most of the rest of the country is. You are exposed to the arts, culture, the richest people, and the poorest people. What an amazing place to grow up.
I was able to work a few days this week through my temp agency. I filed papers, in a storage closet for 17 hours. I spoke to two people in three days, and they were just giving me instructions. My hands were busy, but not as busy as my mind. I was stuck in the closet-thinking and getting choked up at the thought…
“Is this going to be my life in New York?”
I was the invisible worker. Replaceable. As a temp you are quickly forgotten, so why would the employees invest any of their time into you? I get it. But walking in on my second day I felt an unbearable sadness. Another day in the closet. My feet hurt standing up all day in dress shoes, and my wrist hurt (the constant reminder of my former career.) I cried the whole way home on my second day feeling completely defeated.
On my third day temping for the same company, I was a little more hopeful knowing that it would be my last day filing endless stacks of papers, but I was still so sad walking to the train station. While I walked down the stairs, I heard the most beautiful sound. A woman played the violin in the middle of the platform with her eyes closed. I stood close to her in the sea of people and I wept, not for sadness, but for the beauty of the music that she was giving to all of us. She gave me hope to finish my day strong. She made me realize why I’m here. This is the city of dreams.
The violin has always sounded a little sad to me- and it was like the exact sound that my heart was making. I was so moved by the sound of her music. It gave me strength for the day… for the week. With each person I meet, who is chasing their dream, it gives me nourishment- and it fills my soul a little.
That, and having a roommate who brings me home a root beer float when the city takes too much from me.
This city is hard. But it’s going to be worth it. The violinist taught me that this week.