January 10, 2016
It took a full 24 hours to adjust to the size and energy of NYC, and now I can see myself falling in love with the city. I couldn't have asked for a better pit-stop on my way to Lisbon, Portugal. Despite the icy winter blast that threatens frost bite each time you have to go outside, every place is still full of activity. Unfortunately, I didn't get to witness any pants-less subway riders today on my way to the Museum of Natural History, as January 8, 2017 was the annual "no pants subway ride".
A friend and I decided to find discount tickets to a Broadway show. This may sound like it could be complicated or very simple, because most people rave about seeing a show on Broadway. I discovered that it was much harder to figure it out than it should have been. The answer to "how does one see a discount Broadway performance?" is this: find out what you would like to see, find out when and where it is. Once you know that, it seems standard to go to the actual theater where that play is located (there are many theaters) and get to the box office two and a half hours before the start of the show, enter the lottery(which should start about 2 hours before), and either get discount seats or super discount standing room only. We're talking $25 for a show some people sitting down in the seat in front of you paid over $100 to see. An important note! This is all while your feet hurt. An ache that is like a walking across snowy Manhattan in 19 degrees all day, now standing in the back of the theater behind the last row. Worth it. The staff give a speech to the standing room patrons before the show that goes something like, "don't annoy anyone, be invisible and at intermission shuffle over to that stairway over there to be out of the way."
While chatting with over drinks not far from Times Square, my friend and I both agreed that everyone should live in New York City at least once or a city like it. Even if it is only for a short amount of time, it has a valuable perspective to offer members of the human race. Yes it's crowded and loud and you can't park an SUV on your lawn because there is no space and everyone takes the subway and walks to get around. Yes it's expensive and yes, it is not a permanent home for everyone. However, it is a mass of humanity, a cross section of hundreds, maybe thousands of cultures, religions all living together in proximity and interacting daily.
New Yorkers don't care about what their neighbor is doing, you can't keep track of all 8 million of your neighbors. I come from a city that is so spread out, you need a car to get from one suburb to the next. Unintentionally, and in general this facilitates people keeping to the groups of similar experiences or economic wealth and then we can tend to rely on ideas and stereotypes about the people that are different from us if we never interact, the ideas are all we have to go off of. A dense city, with great public transportation leads to a high level of acceptance if only for the fact that no matter your wealth, ethnicity, nationality or no matter what you believe and choose to do, people tend to respect each other, look out for each other and mind your own business. There can be positives from this especially in an era where politically charged individuality is on the rise in its popularity. The every person for themselves mentality isn't going to solve the problems that are so big, a single nation can't solve them. It requires working together with those different than us, collaboration that starts with acceptance. Going to New York and staying for a while can be a reminder that we are all of the same species with so many different stories and backgrounds and that we should learn to look out for each other, respect and love one another, instead of fear and hate what's different. If you think I'm reading too much into this, try it out for yourself. Take a trip to that part of town you never visit because of your own fears and prejudices and make a friend. We're all human and you never know what you might learn.