Greetings from the Big Apple!
Here I am! After two delays and one layover, I made it to New York City in one piece. After thirty minutes trying (and failing) to hail a cab, I realized you needed to wait in line for them.
In the taxi I asked my driver,
Me: “Do you like living in NYC?”
Him: “No, there are too many people, I want to move to the South!”
Had this guy ever been to the South? While I love Durham and its southern charm, I will leave my qualms with the South for another day. I refused to let my driver kill my exploding child-like curiosity and wonder for New York City.
He wasn’t kidding. On a Sunday night at 10 pm where the streets of Seattle would be quiet, 14th street was bustling and hustling with people grocery shopping and going along their merry ways.
I truly understand now why Duke kids simply call it “the city”.
Learning to adjust to New York City’s lifestyle and the Moxie Program has been quite the learning curve. Here are some lessons I have learned thus far:
1. Grocery shopping is no joke.
Be alert and be ready. When you go grocery shopping, be prepared to stand in a line for the actual line. Small talk at the check out line is not a thing, so do not try it.
2. There are runners, but they are hiding.
As an avid runner, I feared the inhabitants of New York to be the slaves of gyms or yoga studios. On my first run I felt very self conscious that I was running. There were a lot of people staring, and I the more I tried to blend in the more staring I got. However as the street I was running on ran into the Hudson, the holy grail of running came upon me.
Uninterrupted stretch of pavement for bikers, runners, and walkers. I had found them, my people! Runners everywhere! This instance is a perfect example of how NYC uses space in creative ways. Walk anywhere and you can see small parks between buildings, coffee shops where only two people can fit, or tiny basement restaurants. In a city where space is limited, no space has gone unclaimed.
3. The subway is peacefully chaotic.
First day on the subway I couldn’t have been more excited. I felt adult and professional in my first day of work clothes.
Little did I know the subway is not for smiles. When you walk down those stairs and pull out your Metrocard something changes. No longer am I the friendly energetic person that I aim to be, but rather a woman with a silent purpose. I join the mass heading to my train and walk next to strangers. On the train Julia and I keep talk to a minimum and listen to the hum of the tracks.
This transformation came out of necessity. Go slowly you don’t get on the train, speak too loudly and you get looks, stare too long and someone says something. Running for your train, unlike the Duke buses, is completely acceptable. The subway is loud and chaotic. There are people going every which way, trains going different directions, people singing, people fighting, smells of food and urine. Amid all this disorder, the subway is calming. Here is a place where hundreds, nay thousands of people come through all with different lives, different places to go, and I am just one amid the crowd.
4. Street Harassment is more prevalent in our society than I could have imagined.
While the city continues to inspire, wow, and confuse me with its wonders, the most eye opening experience I have had so far is my work at Hollaback. Julia and I are responsible for approving stories for the Hollaback website. These stories are evidence and proof to the scope of street harassment targeted towards women, and LGBTQ community members. What struck me most was the scale in which these acts of harassment occur. Never before had I even heard of masturbating on the subway or groping as a means of street harassment. These acts occur every day all around the world and in the city. While I have experienced the “hey baby,” or yesterday’s “you and me tonight baby.” I haven’t had the very graphic and physical harassment that some of these women experience. My ignorance is indication of why Hollaback’s storytelling platform is crucial towards opening this often closed conversation.
So many of us are defined by our own personal experiences and forget that other people have difference experiences from our own.
So many or us do not take street harassment seriously because we don’t experience it in the same ways.
5. My fellow Moxies are hilarious, passionate and the coolest people I’ve met.
I guess getting thrown into the city to fend for ourselves was really the best way to bond. It is crazy to think I have only known these girls for little over a week. Each one has made their mark on me in a unique and wonderful way. Has it really been only one week?
Until next time,