Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Less Talk, More Walk: Surviving NYC one lesson at a time

A couple of weekends ago I was feeling very anti New York City. Everything and everyone annoyed me. According to the locals, this was normal. The fact that I live at the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel, surrounded by the calming sounds of jack hammers and cranes, and that I’m often tripping over hordes of tourists sprinting to secure their place on the Circle Line, does not help my mood. Let’s just say that I do not live in an ideal location. 

I’m several long blocks from the nearest subway station, which happens to be the luxurious and fragrant Port Authority bus terminal on the infamous 42nd Street. Just once I’d like to walk to the subway and not have to step over the man with no right foot, who’s sprawled out in the middle of the sidewalk, or inhale an odoriferous bouquet of urine and roasted peanuts. Is that too much to ask? But you say, “That’s the city. It’s gritty and alive”. No. No, it’s not. It’s gross.

My relentless bemoaning of my decision to move back to the Big Apple during this particular weekend drove me into the arms of my loyal and trusted friend, Ms. Laptop. I decided to go to my off-site office, Starwich, a lovely cafĂ© a couple of blocks from my apartment. They offered free Wi-Fi and everyone knew my name. 

I walked in and saw that every single chair was occupied. It was standing room only. I had never seen it so packed. I threw up my hands and stormed out. Now where? I didn’t know where because there wasn’t anywhere else in my stupid neighborhood to go! I walked around the block and decided on a park along the West Side Highway that had a few tables and a respectable amount of lawn. But as I walked west, the streets became more and more crowded with people (read tourists). I couldn’t deal. I needed real estate that wasn’t occupied by camera toting, Birkenstock wearing (with socks), fanny pack holding, foreigners.

Wait, my building has a sundeck on the third floor that overlooks the Hudson River. That didn’t sound so bad. When I got to the sundeck, I had the whole place to myself. Ahhh. That’s what I wanted, a little piece and quiet away from humanity. I booted up my computer and started creating.

A few minutes later I was interrupted by the sounds of a cheering crowd. I walked over to the edge of the sundeck and saw a sea of pink in the park along the West Side Highway. There must have been hundreds of people wearing pink t-shirts and pink baseball hats. A banner read, “Avon Breast Cancer Walk”. It was the closing ceremonies to the two-day, 39-mile cancer walk. 

I sat back down and as I listened to the President of the organization thank the walkers for their hard work, and tireless efforts, I thought about the bitching session that I had partaken in over the weekend. Bitching! I should’ve been walking! I could’ve bitched while I walked, and then at least I would’ve been doing something productive.

I felt ashamed especially after listening to a few breast cancer survivors tell the throngs of people uplifting and inspirational stories. It felt as if they were speaking directly to me. “Thank you for taking action and not wallowing in self pity like that Dani girl. If we had to wait until she stopped complaining about icky New York City, we might never have walked today, and as a result, wouldn’t have raised enough money to find a cure.” 

The event was over but I wanted to support the women in pink. I wanted to do something in deference to their struggles, so I lay back on my chaise, slipped my hand under my shirt, and gave myself a breast exam on my sundeck. 

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