Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The New York Post

I'm back. My first trip to New York City is now over. The withdrawal symptoms have already kicked-in.

I loved New York. As promised, it was dirty, smelly, crowded, hot, and loud. But it was none of those things to the degree I anticipated, nor to a degree that I could not tolerate. In fact, the grungy reality of New York brought a welcome contrast to the vanilla perfection that abounds in Salt Lake City. I found myself feeling more at home in New York than I ever have in Utah.

It was not just the environment of the city though, the people were different. That is really the understatement of the year. In Utah, there are two kinds of people: Mormons and non-Mormons. Everyone fits into one of these groupings. In New York, it seems, there are as many kinds of people as there are people. Maybe it is just because I want it to be this way, but it appeared that everyone in New York had an actual personality of their own. Would it be too much to say that there were real people in New York? Hmmm, that makes a strong implication against a certain demographic of Utah.

Another property of the city that I found fantastic was the smallness of it. The subways really are magic. Swipe card, enter train, get jostled for a few minutes, and shazam, you are in a totally different place. I found the whole process of going underground, shielded from a number of normal sensory cues, and then returning to the surface amongst new surroundings wonderful. It is probably pretty lame for me, as a tourist, to write about the subway at all, but dammit, I just can't get over the magic of it. This is the number one advantage of high population density, in my opinion; the opportunity for effective public transportation.

My friend, E., acted as a fabulous host for the whole weekend. Despite her lingering illness, she showed me places and introduced me to people that other outsiders would never get to see. That generosity was critical to my favorable opinion of New York. Had E. not put me on the inside track, I might have thought New York a place full of Asian tourists wearing Ohio State and Yankee hats and taking enough photos to meet and then exceed any existing stereotypes. Instead I met a Pulitzer winner, a world class chef, a journalists, Ph.D.s, and even a couple other computer geeks. This insider tour made New York a real place for me, not just a big place with a lot of action like Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

I mentioned withdrawal symptoms. New York has been on my mind pretty constantly since I returned two days ago. I am trying to flush my mind by writing so that I can concentrate on the job interview I have later today. Hopefully it works, otherwise I might not be able to dance for them. Other symptoms of New York withdrawal include not sweating prufusely and restlessness.

New York is the first city outside of Ohio where I felt like I could be at home. Let's enumerate places I've been that I've considered living: San Francisco, L.A., San Diego, Sacramento, Phoenix, Tuscon, Las Vegas, Ann Arbor, Madison, Tampa, Miami, and Boston. Even Salt Lake City has never fallen into the "places I feel at home" category. That, of course, is part of the reason I chose to live here, but it is also the reason that Salt Lake is wearing thin on me. A city like New York appeals to the aspiring cosmopolitan in me. Where better might I fit than a place where nobody is a perfect fit. Plus E. tells me that single, straight men are in short supply; that appeals to the economist in me. Who am I to deny the demand of my supply?

Did I mention the food? Even the cheap, non-exciting food was fabulous. I'm running out of steam, so let me just mention my favorite delicacy. Tomatoes. Specifically, heirloom tomatoes garnished with, I believe, just some basil and oil. Simple but fantastic. Who knew that would be it? Other top contenders include the cheese and egg sandwich which apparently is a New York staple and a delicious shepherd's pie.

That's all I have to say about New York right now.

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