What many people don’t like about New York City, is that there are too many people. It takes focus to walk down a street and maneuver past all kinds of bodies going right, left, stopping, slowing down or speeding up. But this is precisely what I like! I love being in a crowd. My favorite is the subway at rush hour. I enjoy the idea of being compressed amongst the hundreds of bodies on the subway train with the blank or tired sagging faces turned in different directions trying not to slip and fall. I like to stand my ground while other bodies push me about. Everyone is fighting for their body’s room, and one has to be assertive about claiming space at peak times. This arouses in me a love for the city because I see, and literally feel life gushing and pulsating around me. Sometimes you can feel the heat of the person next to you and realize how close you are to a stranger: closer than you can get anywhere else without it being socially unacceptable. I smile when the conductor yells to not hold doors for the last few people that squish into the subway train instead of waiting for the next train because this shows that, yes, there really is an overwhelming amount of people, of life. And I am more interested in the idea of confinement in the subway, reminding me that I am alive, over the confinement of a coffin, alone and dead.
I really like how careless people are in public. New Yorkers have seen and heard so many odd things about so many people that odd things don’t capture their interest as easily as the rest of America. People dress more unusually or wear crappy old clothes and others don’t pay much attention to that. There are so many people and everyone is so busy and in such a rush that others don’t have time and energy to care about each individual as much. And in a way I like the idea of this. I like the fact that one can go about their business without others wondering who this person is, why he’s dressed like this, or what he is up to. You go into a store for a chips and beer, and the cashier doesn’t really care about you. He serves you quickly, because there is likely another customer behind you, and that’s another dollar. To him you are just another buyer. I think it’s great when strangers don’t care about your business because it allows you to be yourself, not attract attention, and not think about what they think about you. You don’t have to answer to “Hi, how are you? Did you find everything you were looking for today?” Everyday encounters aren’t elevated to special occasions the way they are in small towns. You can simply be an object to others; another number in the city.
On these two subway benches sat three girls that were most likely between the ages of 17 and 20. I was reading a book. They were dressed in an attempted fashionable way that made the most of inexpensive accessories and clothes. Nothing too radical, yet quite individualistic. Two or three of them utilized colorful accessories or color of clothing—a splash of green popped out to my eyes. One of them was wearing shorts that one would wear in the summer months, yet it was only early march and still chilly. They were casually discussing someone they knew in a nondramatic way. The one in the middle was wearing sunglasses over her eyes. The one on the right seat was shaking her foot. When the train conductor announced that it was the Fulton St. stop they suddenly realized that this is where they had to get to using the “C” train. They started doubting they should get off the “G” train and mentioned out loud, “maybe there are two Fulton stops?” I soon realized they were probably getting off at the wrong stop; they meant to go to the Fulton stop at the bottom tip of Manhattan, not the one in Brooklyn, but I ended up not saying anything.
As I was searching for thought trying to fill time on the subway I realized my butt is starting to get sore from sitting on these hard ass benches. They are ergonomically well-made but why don’t they at least have some upholstery on them? Surely NYC has the money. They can’t put that soft furry upholstery layer on them because it would get worn down within days or weeks from all the butts that rub up on them getting up and sitting down and movin’ about. It just wouldn’t handle all those NY butts, not to mention the Midwesterners’ and Texans’. It wouldn’t be convenient and profitable for the MTA to change it so often. And upholstery is much harder to clean. New York City is the first place where I can see the effects of human beings on a man-made environments faster than nature’s effects. A beauty of New York City is that when there is a new section of the road built, or various other architectural elements, within a few weeks you can spot wear and tear on it from its use by human beings. The public gives it character in this short amount of time. The new black dots on the sidewalk, the grimy oily stains and specks. Each new square foot gets tested immediately by numerous people. Often it seems that people wear down a certain place or architectural element faster than nature. In a way people play a much larger role in shaping their landscape in a big city than in a small one. The urban landscape actually grows, changes, acquires a different character, and ages, as a living thing.