I have a blister on my feet from my new cool New York shoes. Today I’m going to wear my cool, comfortable shoes that I brought with me from Alabama. They look pretty New York to me. Style and comfort. That’s the New York way. Yesterday I left my apartment at 6 pm for a 7 pm meeting downtown. I could have walked it in 46 minutes, or the correct train would have taken me 25 minutes at that time of the evening. I took the wrong train. Or, trains. I got on the wrong train three times. At rush hour. A great lesson in patience. I arrived at 7:20 for the meeting. That’s the New York way. Learning about the trains. A friend told me he has lived here for 25 years and still takes the wrong train occasionally. Being kind to new people. That’s the New York way. It’s Spring in New York. It’s freezing and windy. That’s New York, and I love it.
I’m already a creature of comfort. I have my favorite cafe which has healthy food, strong coffee, tasty teas, and a killer chocolate chip and sea salt cookie. It is always busy. The crowd consists of students, professionals, celebrities, young parents, artsy types and loud New Yorkers like the raconteur sitting next to me now. I love the colorful personalities. I am still trying to understand why I feel so calm sitting here writing, enjoying my surroundings in my own space. I went to the library earlier. I left only because it did not have a public restroom. As soon as I realized this I had to find a place with a restroom. I walked around The Village and I was drawn back to my favorite coffee shop. O Cafe. There is so much noise around me, so much action. But, I sit here calm and so at home in my own little world. I am living the life I always dreamed of, living in New York City and writing. This is my dream. I woke up this morning with fear that it would end. I have been sad today. I am not really sure why, but I know what to do. I lean into it. I write about it. I am sad because of memories. I am sad because of fear of the future. But, what about today? Why am I wasting time on being sad when I am living my dream? I’ve realized that I am driven by emotions in my writing. Pain or humor. They drive me. I decided to sit here, just take it in and sit with my emotions. Then, a gentleman about my age struck up a conversation with me. He has lived in the city since 1990 when he was 31. He began to tell me about his dream to move. He wants to move up near The Cloisters or to The Hudson Valley. He said his friends tell him he will be bored, but it is still his dream. I told him I understood. Many people have expressed to me their thoughts about my dream of moving to New York. It is too expensive. It is too crowded. It is not safe. But, It is my dream and I am here. I am living my dream today. I am still feeling a bit strange, but I am reminded we all have dreams and we can live them.
I would like to think of it as a cat and mouse game. I think it was more of a big elephant in the room…me…jumping up on the bed at a shadow or was it a mouse? It was 7:20 this morning and I was ready to leave my apartment for my 12 Step meeting. My first thought when I caught the site out of my periphery was, “I’m leaving today. I’m getting the hell out of this city!” I have seen rats in the subway and on the sidewalk at night, but my apartment is clean and pest free. I think. I thought about it. A mouse could not get on the third floor…surely. I went to my meeting and calmed down. As I was discussing my morning with my friend, a New Yorker, nonchalantly said, “Oh yeah, a mouse can be on the 3rd floor; they can get in anywhere. That’s the city.” Well, my my my. That’s the city. This bustling pool of wonderful people with so many things to do. The city that is teaching me so many important life lessons may very well have a real lesson for me. There are rodents here. According to Robert Sullivan’s bestselling book, “Rats,” these creatures are as much city dwellers as we are. They belong here. I suppose I have invaded their space. I am the creature trying to fit here, not the other way around. They have their place. They have found their favorite holes in the wall. Literally. They know where to go when they need rest or be calm. They know where to scurry to find the best food. They know how to avoid the traffic and navigate the crowds. I am a neophyte still learning to steer my way along the waves of the city. Each day I encounter situations like, do I sandwich my way onto this train or do I wait for 7 minutes for the next train which will probably be as crowded? Do I turn on my air conditioner and deal with my upstairs neighbor who is somehow bothered by the noise which results in him stomping around the entire time as if he is engaging in some sort of revolting march? Do I walk to pick up my laundry now and carry it around or do I wait until later and backtrack so I can take it directly home? Or, if I have to be uptown by 7 pm, then I need to start walking because it takes me 5 minutes to walk to the stop, then to get thru the turnstile and walk to the platform and wait for the next train which I will squeeze onto and I must account for all of the stops because I’m not on an express train I’m on a local train which stops at every stop, and I must allow enough time if the train gets delayed for any reason like a maintenance issue or a track fire. In the three weeks, I have lived here I have figured a lot out about the city. I am feeling more at home here. But, I must tackle my biggest challenge yet. Is that a mouse or a shadow waiting for me at my apartment. I suppose I need to leave this cafe and go see.
It is great fun making connections in New York. Shannon Tyree’s mother lives in Auburn, Alabama and we had a great time talking about The Plains and Shannon’s move to New York in the 90’s. She has acted and is a writer. She works at one of my new favorite healthy restaurants, Quantum Leap in Greenwich Village.
Today I had the pleasure of meeting this great group of public servants, Fire Department New York-So Ho Station! What a great group of men! Thank You for your service. As we were walking on Bleeker Street later I heard, “Hey, Cookie!” I thought, “I just heard my name.” When I looked around they said, “Don’t you remember us?!” Grateful for such warm and fun interactions! They even knew, “Bless your heart!” Love them!