Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CIty Slickers

Yesterday Christopher and I decided to venture into the city. It is an hour and forty minute train ride from Poughkeepsie into Grand Central Station and we caught the train just before ten am. It was exciting, I have only been from school to the city one other time, although Chris has traveled to the city many times from school, and even took an interest in living there- which did not turn out so well. But I was enthusiastic to ride the train and see the sights. I mentioned to Chris that I felt like I was on the polar express, to which he replied "did you ever see that movie? the train was way better than this." It made me start to think about the different perspectives people have based on their own experiences. I took a moment to glance around me. To my left, was a man and wife both asleep on the train- just passing the minutes by, so familiar and comfortable with the train they must have been in order to just start snoozing. In front of me was a young girl, just learning to spell because she sounded out each word she took on reading and spelled it. She was interested in everything, "Grandma, do you ever take your earrings out?" "Grandpa, you were sleeping!" I wondered if it would be her first trip into the city. And then there was Chris next to me, staring out the window, counting the minutes of the ride. That train ride just gave me a moment to step back and wonder at how miraculous each person's different experience may be.

Once the train began to enter the tunnel, people packed up their temporary "train" lives and started hustling to the front. Some even passed through the car and beyond the door that was signed with a warning to not stand between the cars while the train was still in motion. Where were all those people going? Why did they have to get there so fast? Well, when the caboose squeaked to a stop, every one of those people flooded through the doors in the same direction. I felt like a guppy in a school of fish, following the current. After climbing a few sets of stairs, all of the people who had been striding towards the same exit, broke off in millions of different directions. I marveled at the ceiling as everyone does, and insisted on wearing my camera around my neck. Chris seemed embarrassed, he didn't want to look like tourists. But we rushed out onto the street and he knew exactly what direction we were headed in. I walked swiftly, a step ahead of him, and he reminded me that I had nothing to do until Wednesday when we had to be back in class. I relaxed, I guess I was just trying to fit in with all of the fast paced New Yorkers who knew where they were going- of which I had no idea.

Chris pulled a quick right, and I followed behind him, wondering what we were going to do on the carpet warehouse street. He stepped inside a building and headed for the elevator. Behind door number one, on the eleventh floor, was JB Prince; a culinarians haven. There were a number of shiny knives laid underneath polished glass, many different sharpening stones, a variety of top notch books, and modern equipment all around. I marveled at the knives while Chris went for the stones. He mentioned that he had browsed the internet and found the same stone for twice as much, and he asked my opinion. Luckily we left the books and the stones and only went for a couple pairs of tweezers, for fear that by the end of the day we would break our back with the weight of a stone.

We proceeded to the street and avoided the oversized pigeons, marveling at the trees that were blossoming. The pace you walk in the city is very important. The locals must get it down to a science, but unless you continue the same steady pace for blocks, it is possible that you may catch every single stop light in the entire city. I noted that some people looked timid at a curb, and looked both ways even if the walking light was green. Others glanced from side to side and walked across even when they did not have the right of way. I found that one way streets are convenient, because you only have to look one way, and if there is not any traffic then you can make it. I often found myself bounding across the street only to realize that there were four people halfway across by the time I made it to the other side. I was an obvious tourist, but it did not really bother me. I remember back when my family travelled to New Mexico for one of my fathers business trips. I was probably fourteen, and my mom bought me a cow girl hat. I distinctly remember talking in a (horrible) southern accent and pretending that I was from New Mexico visiting with my family from New York. I think back and laugh about it. Any of those who have seen my mom, know that I must've been crazy because I am unmistakably her child.

The second stop was Eataly. Of all the times I have visited NYC, I have never really visited the food part of the city, which is odd. But Luckily Chris was there to tour me around. It was incredible to walk around and see all of the fresh meats and fish, watch them make the pasta, etc. We found ourselves in the middle of a restaurant and had to find our way out of the maze in order to continue throughout the market. Having been through the Italian restaurant on campus, we were happy to recognize some of the terms not so familiar to other tourists. We also found some interesting honey. There were nuts dispersed throughout the jar of honey. Chris asked me if I thought that the nuts tasted like honey, or the honey had the flavor of the nuts. I guessed the latter, but I would suppose that it really is both. If you ate the nut, it would be coated in honey and therefore taste like honey. Again we looked at a couple of books, but decided to save our backs- or rather, Chris' back.

We decided to skip China town and maybe circle back to it. I am not all that interested in Asian flavors and although Christopher insisted that it was the central point of food in New York City, I decided we would catch it later. We strode on towards Chelsea Market, which I had the wrong idea about. I assumed it would be a mix of the market I saw in Seattle and Eataly, but it was very different. Inside was a variety of stores from clothing stores to bakeries, butcher shops and ingredient based shops. We walked into the fish market where they were just cutting some salmon. Four guys manned the cutting boards; one took off the sides and passed it to the next man who took out the bones and cut off the belly fat, the fish was then thrown to a gentleman who pinboned the fish and the last man skinned the fish. They were not as gentle as my fish instructor insisted we be, and it left an impression on me. But those guys glanced at me thinking, who is she? She has probably never even seen a whole fish in her life. The really neat thing about the fish market was that the lobsters were in cages but there was a waterfall running over them so that they would continue to stay fresh.

As Chris and I continued to stroll through the market, we gazed fondly upon all of the cute pictures of food art which was created by Bill Wurtzel. Some people just zoomed on by through the market with their own agendas, but we side stepped those people and just laughed at all of the funny food art. I got a little irritated in the kitchen store when I was interested in buying a knife and no one paid any attention to me. "That girl cannot possibly want to buy a knife from behind our counter." But I finally was able to grab someone's attention and I purchased a sharp boning knife with enough flex to help me through whatever I have to face in Bocuse on Wednesday.

Chris surprised me with an interest in rollerblades. He had mentioned it a couple of days before, and we had stopped at a few shops, but I thought maybe he was thinking ahead to when we move after school. Instead he had hoped the day before to rollerblade across the bridge over the Hudson with me, and now he had wanted to go rollerblading in Central Park. We rushed around to a few sports themed stores, but none had a wide selection of blades. When traveling to the city, I had a couple of things in my mind besides the knife as far as purchases were concerned. At Grand Central, Chris had pulled me into the Swatch store so I might find a collection I liked but it was too early in the trip for me to buy anything. And we stopped in a few places where I was hoping to find a denim vest, but the few I found were extremely out of my price range- well, what was I expecting. After grabbing a piece of pizza as a snack, I looked up to see the biggest TJMaxx ever, and I insisted that we rush in. I was overwhelmed by how many things were in the store. It was not however, a good overwhelming feeling, more of a "howtheheckamIsupposedtofindonethingthatmatchesmewhentherearesomanyotherthingstryingtohidethatonethingfromme?!" feeling. I did however, find one of my favorite Life is Good shirts yet, too bad it was not in my size.

As we headed towards Broadway and 42nd street, hoping to get lucky and score tickets to an evening show, my mom's name came up on Chris' phone. Immediate panic crossed over both of our faces. I answered and told my mom my coordinates in the city as she asked. She told me not to get excited but that there had been a bombing in Boston and that she thought it would be a good idea to get out of the city. I grabbed Chris' hand and we headed towards the station. We had no clue when the next train was leaving or what had happened in Boston and we were both nervous and frustrated. On one hand, I wanted to get the heck out of the city; I was scared and did not want anything to happen to Chris or I. I was worried but relieved that nothing had happened to my family. On the other hand, no one else seemed to know that anything was going on. Everyone seemed oblivious. It upset me that our day of fun had to come to an end. I felt out of my element and uncomfortable in the terminal and luckily the train was ten minutes from leaving. The train was packed and I wondered if others were headed home due to the high alert warnings in New York. I asked Chris what high alert meant, and he explained that they bring in more forces. I thought about how there is no real preventative action that can be taken. I was happy that we got out of there. But I was disappointed about our day.  I drifted off to sleep with Chris' arm on one side of me and the passing scenery on the other.

Our day in the city made me think about how everyone's lives are touched differently by their experiences. I don't think it's possible for any two people to experience the same things. I have been a New Yorker for the majority of my life, but I have never been a NYCer. When ever someone asks me where I am from out of state and I say New York, they automatically assume that I am from the city. Not everyone knows that New York is not just a city. But the city is a big part of it. Half of those residents of New York State live in New York City. That's crazy. So many lives in such a small little area. Those that live there are very brave. Which train would they rush to if their mom was worried about them? Do you know I saw three blind people in my five hours in the city. Of all the places I would want to live if I were blind, the city would not be on my top one hundred list. I am definately not a city girl. No way, no how. I would rather stack 450 bales in a barn than be able to touch my neighbor through my window. Brave people. They really are.

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