Now that I've lived in New York City for over four full months, I thought I would share my two most recent realizations. I've been a bit apprehensive about sharing these particular thoughts but given my life long pursuit to be a fruit loop in a world of cheerios, why hold back now?
First, New York City rodents are endearing. I remember my first sighting. I was sitting at my temporary folding desk during Period 9 and saw something larger than a bug but smaller than a student go dashing across my doorway. In a panic I slowly raised my feet from the ground so that no part of my body was touching the floor. After deciding to investigate, I tossed a few objects within arms reach onto the floor to hopefully startle the little critter and scare them into hiding so I could consult with my colleagues over the incident. A few squeals and goosebumps filled moments later, it was confirmed, I was cohabiting with mice. My whole body began to itch as I thought about all of the diseases I had potentially contracted.
As an aside, I did not grow up in a place where mice and rats are typically common. If I see a spider, cockroach, or other creepy critter, I typically rise to the occasion to smash without any hesitation or let it be. The mice and rats were different until...
One crisp fall Monday evening as I was waiting for a subway, I saw a rat on the tracks. While my initial reaction was "ew" I became fascinated and used the distance as an opportunity to observe. The poor little guy was dodging subway cars to try and obtain a Doritos crumb from the abandoned bag for his family. Perhaps someone's dropped bagel could be tonight's dinner. It saddened me. The resilient rat doesn't have the luxury to pop into Whole Foods like myself and pick up a deliciously prepared organic meal or call Seamless when he feels like splurging. He's forced to live off of the waste of others given New York City is not overflowing with it's abundant natural resources.
It's honestly been my biggest transformation since moving to New York City. I'm quite positive I offered one an oatmeal bath today for his noticeably dry skin. Yes, I speak aloud to the rodents and yes, I think it's rather normal. Let's just hope I don't spy one scurrying across my living room anytime soon.
Second, bicycles are the most dangerous form of transportation. I may be a bit biased in this statement in that I was never a particularly strong bike rider. I never preferred to ride bikes and fortunately I only had one bike so if a friend was over, bikes were not the activity of choice. However, a lot of my friends had family bikes and always suggested we go on a ride. Given that I was the tallest, I was always discriminated against and forced to ride the "Dad's bike." Growing up, my mom had instilled in me the love for fashionable footwear since a young age and I didn't exactly wear sneakers to my friends house to play. So on top of riding dad's bike, I was always in some over the knee boot or strappy sandal and I inevitably fell off and ended up walking the bike back home. One summer in college for an internship, my provided transportation was a bike. I was impressed by how quickly I embraced the bike life style and was starting to get a bit adventurous with my choices. Then, one blistering hot afternoon, I started to travel down a hill too quickly and in a panic squeezed the brake handle without realizing I had only squeezed one and therefore flipped myself off the bike into the road shattering my beloved BlackBerry. I woke up briefly after and made a vow at that moment to never ride a bike again.
Given this context, it's to no surprise that I don't find all of the bicycles in New York as endearing as I do the rats. They are truly terrifying. There are no rules for the operators of bikes. They ride on the roads with cars. They ride on the sidewalks with pedestrians. When the light turns red, any law-abiding automobile driver comes to a stop. Bicycles continue to fly on through and expect you to wait. I see the WALK sign but I'm always afraid of being flattened by a bicycle.
Henry has inherited this trait from me and he too fears the bicycles. He will start barking whenever one comes too close on our walks. One Saturday, after returning from a pleasantly crisp walk in the park, a young child ran into Henry with his bike in our lobby. Henry and the child were both laid out across the floor having toppled off of the bike and I was trying to save Henry from the danger of that bike with training wheels. We were both pretty shook up and are fortunate the driver was only four.
Heading into this week, remember, rats are friends. Bikes are not.