New York<> is <>Seattle
An incessant gushing surge of water has held back the Spring/Summer cheer-induced smiles of many New Yorkers (and east coasters) in the last few weeks. We have been pelted time and time again and in this recession, where biking is now the way of the black suit, I-now-shine-my-own-shoes businessman, I-always-go-the-wrong-way-on-one-way-streets Chinese delivery man, the tattooed helter skelter anarchist and dew drop counting co-op membership-toting individual (biking caricatures are merely meant for comedic effect), times are tough.
The subway is one week away from being $2.25 a ride. When I moved to New York in 2006, a monthly subway card was $70-something. It is now being upped from $81 to $89. The flux in the cost of NYC’s main transportation is not congruent with the decline of steady happy work, boutiques, bodegas, fine dining, chow hole-in-the-walls, taquerias, beer boutiques, mom & pop shops, Circuit City’s, European dishware importers, or any kind of money in, money out operation. SICK.
Nannies have been fired, children are roaming the streets alone and people are looking for the bright lights and thunderous boisterousness of a New York that was just a few thousand days ago. Shell-shocked, many of us, even those who were feelin’ good, not feelin’ the effects of the gentle maniacal captor of our happiness that this economic state is, are now also sullen and angry and broke. ITE or “in this economy” is as ubiquitously used as “hey dude” or “cream and sugar?”. A disgusting sense of self-loathing moral abandon has also set in. As we sit with wallets agape and coins shining in the hint of candlelight now illuminating our bedrooms, we look around and analyze the damage we had done to ourselves prior to all of this. The monetary damage, the commitment to buy, the pile of stuff that defines us and has ultimately ruined us. Anxiety sets in like a sharp knife and unrelentingly retells the story of how we “had to have this house”, “had to have this Lexus”, “had to have this nine slot toaster”, and/or “had to have this intrinsically linked possessionism of China-made goods, soul-less, non-American, ouchie hurtie we’re broke now kind of shit”.
We sit back in our chairs and finally admit we are ready to fix the erring we have made in the last years of our lives. We promise to choose sustainable agriculture, we promise to recycle, we promise to avoid the unnecessary three hour lunches with our college buddies- as they were expensive, and now our buddies work in the suburbs at Goodwill- are no longer as accessible to The Four Seasons as Midtown. We want to change our ways. We’d buy a Prius if we didn’t already have that loan out for our daughter’s dentist appointments. We want to redeem ourselves. We go to a yoga class and sit in the hallway, picking up instructions by the teacher here and there through the glass-paned door. We breathe when she says to, but we dare not go inside, as we don’t want anyone to think we’re weird, and yoga doesn’t accept credit cards.
We now make french press at home and mornings spent sipping troughs of coffee at Le Pain Quotidien, while reading Maxim sandwiched between a NY Times and a The Economist can only be foreseen happening again on one’s birthday. Then again, you are thrilled to think that one day a year you can still catch some of your favorite publications, when your other favorites have folded and been tossed to the non-soy ink recycling bin. Now that your housekeeper has had to move on, Domino, will also not be present to remind you what curtains are the most mold-resistant, nor what simple tricks can turn a dining room into a DINING ROOM.
As this rain continues, I think back to the days when I was a kid. Rain in those days was fun and welcomed and always something to get loose and shake your booty in. Life was a tad less stipulation-y, less demanding of coffee and alcohol. The carefreeness and unrestricted playtime of yesteryear seems almost too distant, like a movie I once saw and can hardly remember.