Thursday, February 18, 2016

New York Made Me... Friendly

photo credit: the always talented Inslee

I know New York has a fearsome reputation with a history of demonstrating incivility and arrogance. I too, believed this stereotype. I'm not sure if it's my longing for friendship or the complete immersion into a culture where I am constantly surrounded by a multitudinous amount of people but New York has made me friendlier.

Not that I was unfriendly before. More distant. Those who know me laugh when I say this, but I do consider myself an introverted, private person. In Charlotte, I was sometimes intimidated to say hi to an acquaintance standing in front of me in line at the grocery store. That awkward moment of how loudly do I say their name? What if they don't recognize me? What if it's not them but a twin I didn't know they had? I'll just give my phone a perplexed look as if I were responding to an urgent email. We were all  moving along within the same space but each within our own bubble. Aside from Mr. Moo at the UPS store (remember when I thought it would be a good idea to start an online eBay shop?) or the Sales Associates at Monkees, I rarely interacted with anyone I didn't already know. I moved through the motions, space to space, going about my routine without much notice to others around me.

Now, I frantically talk to everyone. I have my regulars. The always flannel clad man who opens the cafe a block from my apartment each morning. Eric, the animated barista at Starbucks who I baked cookies for at Christmas. The woman who waits at the bus stop with her daughter each morning. While I don't know her name, we always warmly greet each other especially with the bitter cold New York has had recently. Then there are those I don't know and will likely never see again. The young girl in pigtails in a pink puffer jacket who I decided to play train conductor with one day. At each stop she would enthusiastically yell out "ALL ABOARD!" and I would share the next stop with her so she could announce to the passengers. The older woman at the gym who wanted to dish on all of her favorite late night show hosts (I'd never stay up late enough for late night) long after my hair was dry. There's Sophie the three year puppy who I sat on the floor of the subway with so I could pet her obsessively.

A few hours ago, I hopped in a shared Lyft at SFO where not along ago, I would have ridden in silence counting the miles until I was alone. Yet, I introduced myself and eagerly learned about her life. A true New Yorker (born and raised) we had much to talk about. We became so chatty, I gave her hug when we reached her destination. I sat there in utter shock of myself. I don't even like to be touched and here I was initiating a hug with a stranger.

Not too sure of the source of the above mentioned friendliness, but I'll take it and I'm going to attribute the friendliness to New York City. I had visions of becoming an all black wearing abrasive, supercilious city dweller. While the all black has certainly rubbed off on my wardrobe,  I'd like to think NYC has made me warmer and I don't mind the change.



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