The blog has been sleeping for a couple of months but I have not! I left Rio, moved home to the New York suburbs, and now, as of one week ago, I’m fulfilling my dream of living in the city that never sleeps. I’m also living in a state of constant disbelief that one person is allowed to have so many incredible adventures in one young lifetime.
After blogging from Rio, a city I only met eight months ago, blogging about the city I grew up near will be totally different. I already know a lot about it. But there’s infinitely more that I don’t know, so much to explore. And there’s the thrilling knowledge that I will never make sense of it all, this city that James Baldwin described as “so spitefully incoherent.”
To kickstart the New York City chapter of this blog, here’s a list of observations about the city from my first week of living here that I didn’t know or notice before:
1) It’s possible to walk out of a midtown building and realize after several minutes of walking that you don’t know whether the sky is blue or grey. Obviously, looking upwards immediately changes that. But unless it’s raining or snowing or the sun is shining brightly, it’s possible not to notice the sky.
2) At certain Manhattan intersections you can look down the avenues for miles! This seems to be more true for avenues on the west side. (I must have been somewhat aware of this before, but it’s something that has stood out to me since moving in.) I don’t know any other city where the grid system is so epic – are there any cities that are comparable?
3) Indoor public spaces – there are more of them than I expected! There’s the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center with wifi, nice spaces to work, and free chamber concerts. There’s the massive indoors-but-pretending-to-be-outdoors-but-warm! atrium at the Trump Tower. The Philip Morris building has a ground floor space with tables and chairs and is located near to the main branch of the New York Public Library; it’s the perfect spot to sit with a packed lunch during a day of work at the library.
4) Times Square in the morning – between 7 and 8am – is bizarre…eerie… It’s not empty (it’s never empty), but the relative quiet means that the flickering of bright-light advertisements the size of buildings dominates the space much more than in the evening when it’s packed with crowds. Bright city lights in the evening feel normal, but unnatural light of that magnitude is unsettling on a winter’s morning when you’re expecting darkness.
5) SO many languages. In particular, so many Brazilian-Portuguese speakers! They must have faded into the blur of ‘people speaking languages that aren’t mine’ when I spent time in NYC before living in Brazil.
6) There exist people here who walk faster than I do. Insane.
7) The grocery shopping experience merits a blog post of its own. Even after dissecting the hilarious differences between shopping for food in Berlin and Rio in a previous blog post, I still never would have guessed the NYC experience would provide me with just as much fodder.
Lots more to come later…but for now, check out some of the greatest quotes about New York City.