New York City was an experience. I can’t quite wrap my head around the events of the last 48 hours. I wish I could articulately sum up what it was like for me here, but it’s escaping my comprehension right now.
I wanted to do so much more, and feel like I really conquered the city. But in reality I ended up slinking back into the more reserved, detached, observation-focused role, which I feel like I play more often than not. I’m feeling pretty melancholic about the end of the weekend.
As excited as I am about being back to Calgary and seeing my cats and boyfriend (not necessarily in that order), I can’t help but feel like I squandered the weekend. I met a lot of people and had some great conversations, but was it enough? I went to sessions 3/4 of the time (missing Saturday afternoon in favour of recovery; my stomach was still growling more often than not but a slice of New York pizza seemed to have calmed it) and learned a lot about iPhoneography, apps, and SEO (something I’ve been trying to puzzle out for awhile).
I guess at the bottom of it all is the realization that New York is not a city I enjoy. I thought that this trip would solidify it for me either way, after a brief stopover on the way back from Europe in 2003 failed to win me over. And it has: I don’t like New York.
That’s not to say that I dislike everything about the city; I’m more than willing to acknowledge its benefits as well! Getting a hot dog at 10pm is pretty cool, and the energy really is electric. I like walking around everywhere, and there’s really no place like Manhattan.
But I can’t get over the noise — not the buzz of a city, that kind of noise I actually enjoy. The noise of having so many people crammed together in such a small amount of square footage is too much. The buildings and architecture are incredible, but they’re old, dirty and decrepit as well. The smell is palpable; halal cart one second, two-day old piss the next. The city sure has a way of showcasing its darker side while simultaneously wooing you with lights and action. And maybe that’s part of it: the constant contrast of things to love and hate about New York, all in your face, all of the time.
I walked down Broadway in search of my last New York dog choosing to stick to the streets instead of wandering around Central Park, which my cop friend in Minneapolis told me was incredibly dangerous and stupid at night. After I picked up my treat (while being propositioned by the cart owner, who at first thought I was German) I started walking back and I heard the sound of running water. Curious, I followed the sound until I came upon a fountain in the middle of a plaza, surrounded by buildings with chairs in front of the sculpted shrubs that lined the edge of the display. I sat down, and finally saw what I thought didn’t exist in the city: grass.
This was the first grass I’d seen outside of Central Park since arriving on Thursday. After coming from one of the greenest metropolis areas in the country, it was a bit of a shock to realize that the entire island of Manhattan is almost devoid of any green, spare the parks. Where I’m from, we haven’t confined nature to a few square feet where it’s convenient; it flourishes everywhere.
I’m a city person. I’ve always been a city person, and I’ve lived in three major cities in my 24 years: Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. So it feels strange to realize that I may need more space and nature than I once imagined.
New York is just not my city. And as a city person, I don’t think it’s a case of small fish, big pond. I think it’s a freshwater vs salt water problem; I have all the equipment to survive the environment, but there’s something in the chemical composition that tells me I just wouldn’t survive there very long.
I’m glad I came, and experienced BlogHer 2012 (read about the first and second day wrap ups). I’m looking for ways to make BlogHer 2013 (in Chicago) happen — I’ll probably need to start saving right away if I want to come as an independent blogger. But as far as the New York experience goes, I think I’ll leave it to the dreamers still wishing and hoping for something bigger.