It takes a while, but I do get used to this noisy, pulsating, crowded city again after a day or two. I cannot believe that I worked in Manhattan for seven years before I moved to Norway. I commuted by bus and subway each day into and out of Manhattan from the New Brunswick area of New Jersey. I remember clearly that I had a routine and knew all the shortcuts--how to get around the always-present crowds--and if I drove my car on chance occasions, I knew which shortcuts to use to get me more quickly across Central Park over to the East side (York Avenue) where I used to work.
I can't say that I miss the city, but it is a part of me. What I do like here is the diversity of people--the heterogeneity; people of all races and from all walks of life. It truly is a melting pot, and it all seems to work for the most part. What struck me this morning when I ate breakfast at Starbucks, is how many people held the entrance doors open for other people. How polite, and nice to see. And last night I went to mass at St. Malachy's Church on West 49th street; not only was the mass a good experience, but we sang songs that I haven't sung in ages (probably not since I was a teenager). So that by itself was nice, and just what I needed after a long day.
And of course there are the men hawking their wares on the sidewalks, as well as begging. New York City wouldn't be the same without them. One of them stopped me right around the corner from the church, and asked me for money to buy a milkshake at McDonalds. I had just been inside to purchase a large Coke, so I offered him my Coke, but he wanted a milkshake instead. I had to smile, as he told me that he had craved a milkshake all day. So what to do but give him the money to buy his milkshake. It's little moments like those that make me remember that the world is not, and never will be, perfect. There will always be those who have less (or nothing) than others, and those who have way more than they will ever need or use. The priest last night spoke about generosity; about giving even if you don't feel you have enough to give. It's the giving that counts, not the amount (of money, time, listening, caring) given. It's a generous heart that matters most. New York City is a reminder of that and so much more. I'm glad I don't work in the city anymore, but I am glad for the reminders that this city gives me to remain awake and open to the people around me.