Suits. Suits. Suits. New York City is a funny place–where everyone is absorbed in their own microcosm of iPhones and pitch black sunglasses and sesame bagels. It’s interesting how you can tell apart the New York natives from the tourists (especially when you’re in Times Square).
The “Suits”–the mid-twenties men and women decked in pantsuits, dress suits, I-just-stepped-out-of-a-Banana-Republic-catalog suits– have a perpetual frown (otherwise now known as chronic bitch face). The indigenous New Yorkers walk at 2 mph above the courtesy walking speed limit, briefcase in left hand and coffee on right, headphones snug in their ears because they would be caught dead suggesting they were open to conversation.
There’s a different culture here…one that I’m not accustomed to and would not like to be. A culture that revels aggression and rudeness and anti-socialization is one I’d opt out of partaking in. Walking around Times Square, I’ve noticed how people worship men like Michael Kohrs and women like Tiffany (and Co.) over their very neighbors. Where dogs are treated like accessories, stuffed in their Louis Vuitton handbags, and humans are live bowling pins on the sidewalk.
Our taxi driver on the day of our arrival was my first encounter with this madness. His aggression towards the traffic cops (for no apparent reason) shocked me, and I found myself instinctively muttering “Welcome to New York”. Would this be all of a New York City would leave me?
New York is a funny place–the “City that Never Sleeps”, the “City of Lights”, doesn’t justify the beauty hidden in other crevices of New York. Our neighborhood, Astoria, is vastly different. The sewers aren’t filled with cigarette butts, and the buildings aren’t made of glass. In Astoria, you’ll find yourself secretly humming “Brick House”.
Our AirBnB sits above a law firm, walking distance from the laundromat, two grocery stores, a CVS, Starbucks, and the Subway transit. You won’t find pretentious people in Astoria, hell you probably won’t find many people in Astoria in general, but it’s a quaint little city. It’s a place where people plant small rose gardens in the front yard next to a plastic slide, frequent mom-and-pop restaurants, and spend their nights wandering the streets beneath traffic lights. Astoria is a place devoid of car honks, pissed off pedestrians, and obnoxious foreign tourists. It’s a place that has such a home-some feeling and welcomes all.
In complete honesty, NYC did not make me gag like it once did (but perhaps it revamped itself within the last two years). I did enjoy the cheap hot dogs on the street, the skyscrapers that made me feel minuscule in this world, the widely accepted jaywalking. I appreciated a city that so profoundly embraced the arts, from Van Gogh to Andy Warhol-the very men that made my heart melt in Museum of Modern Arts. I nearly fainted at the brief scent of Hallal Guys street food and screamed at the top of my lungs on Coney Island’s Cyclone. I got blisters and bug bites, and neither stopped me from each day’s adventure. And what’s more, I’m looking forward to experiencing New York’s other hidden treasures. Because if Astoria stole my heart, who knows what else will too.