For a while, for work, I went to New York City once a year to run a one-on-one student publication critique program. For $15, you got an hour to talk with an expert stranger about your newspaper or magazine or website or yearbook or your staff issues or your problematic faculty adviser. It was fun, and people got a LOT out of it.
Here are a few things that happened to me:
• Found a deli I liked directly across the hotel that would make you a sandwich, which was just a pound of freshly sliced roast beef (all pink and paper thin) on sourdough bread. It was $9. As sandwiches go in NYC, this was a steal.
• Running this program meant I usually was trapped at my volunteer table from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for 3-4 days. We closed for lunch, and I usually had 30 minutes to either grab something from the lobby bar or run over to the deli.
• This was always in March. Maybe April sometimes. Spring break-y time. In Georgia, March and April are already “pre-summer.” It’s 80 in the days, but it might still be 45 overnight. But in NYC, it’s still chilly.
• If I had 30 minutes for a break, I didn’t want to waste that time waiting on elevators, so I’d just jet across the street in whatever I was wearing. Usually: Jeans, t-shirt, cardigan or hoodie.
• One day, on my way across a chilly but tolerable 7th avenue around 53rd. A dude leans out and yells, right at me, “Girl you got that COLD blood.” I nodded. Hell yes I do. (I don’t consider this catcalling. Dude was just identifying and stating a fact.)
• Years later, here in Atlanta, about two blocks from where I live, I went into a convenience store to get a drink after I pumped gas. I was about 35 (a white lady). The blacktop was being resurfaced. A guy, about 19, ran up to me to walk me in to the store. “You missed the show! I just put my shirt back on,” and I said maybe I’d catch tomorrow’s. We both laughed. (I also don’t really consider this catcalling. Dude was also stating facts.)
• And only one time, it wasn’t snowing when I got in the subway, but when I got out, it had just started, and the glittery little crystals were blowing around me as I came out of the subway stairs. Absolutely gorgeous. I watched it until I thought I’d just drop dead from coldness or overstimulation, then retreated back to the hotel and put three pairs of socks on to go to bed.
• In a cab from Manhattan to LGA one time the driver was like, “You have a trustworthy face,” and then told me his life story about growing up in Bangladesh and as as a young teen beginning an affair with his neighbor. He told me he’d never told anybody but that I seemed OK to accept this information.
Part of me is like, OK, cool, people see me or check my vibe and are like, I’m gonna unburden my soul a little. It doesn’t take much from me, just some nods and smiles, and then another life story is mine. But then it steeps. It sits and strengthens in my head. Then, is that My Thing? No. Not wholly. But somehow, partially.
New York, I love you, but sometimes you’re just not for me.