Upper West Side
My trip to New York was quite the eye-opener. I truly felt that I was stepping into another world. I am not totally naïve to life in a big city but as a life-long suburbanite and sincere “nature girl” this is a very different way of life from mine. It hit me the second I walked off the plane into LaGuardia. People seemed to be packed into a very small space, piled on top of each other, constantly bumping into one another. The bus ride was even more crowded! I barely managed to get on the bus and had to settle for being bumped by the door each time it opened – at least until there was a net decrease in passengers and I finally got to sit down. At one point I was standing there, trying to keep track of my luggage, packed in like a sardine when I heard a public service announcement about the dangers of pick-pockets. As if I needed any more reason to be afraid and as if I could maneuver my luggage and body to protect it all! Then I got off the bus in Harlem, after dark (Oh NO!!) to catch the subway for the final leg to my Aunt’s apartment near 97th and Columbus in Manhattan. The only glitch was that I couldn’t find the entrance to the subway – did I ever feel stupid!! But I only wandered back and forth a couple ways before I saw the stairs down. They had been mostly hidden behind an elevator – I wasn’t expecting that!
If NYC isn’t enough of a difference, the next part of the experience was spending a few days in the world of the elderly who have short term memory loss and were born around the time of the stock market crash (that would be the crash of 1929, by the way) and belong to the pack rat syndrome otherwise known as collecting and storing all things that may be useful…someday. My Aunt is intelligent and interesting and very funny. We had a great time with her. Part of me was sad that these kinds of times were not more common throughout the years. She lived her life in NYC and most of the rest of the family stayed scattered out west. She never allowed visitors to her apartment until the last year when one of my cousins decided to check up on her. I think she has decided that she enjoys our company and so the benefits of the time together outweigh the work of clearing out space to house us. We showed up this time in a contingent of 6 including nieces, nephews, grandniece and grandnephews. The spaces were tight but we all had a sofa or space on the floor to sleep. We only had to share it with the mice - but that is another story.
p.s. don't think that this adventure was all uncomfortable - I had a fantastic time! I want to go back.