Sometimes on long bike rides, I try to imagine whether any future career change would surprise me. Could I imagine myself living with tribes in Papua New Guinea? Totally. In the daily grind as a banker in Hong Kong? Perhaps. Working in a war zone with the US Military? I mean… it could happen.
But even with all the crazy scenarios I invented, I never pictured myself in New York City. In fact, I always swore that I would not, could not, ever more to New York. And was I interested to visit? Not really. After all, some of my favorite things include mountains, lakes, fields full of wildflowers, cycling, organic gardening and rock climbing. In essence, I saw myself as a total granola whose soul would be overrun by even a short jaunt to The Big Apple.
So today, as I gazed up at the Empire State Building while meandering down 5th avenue, my new life here as a writer and editor for The Active Times in Manhattan seemed surreal.
However, New York City continues to surprise me. After only a week, many of my misconceptions were corrected.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
1) Not all corners of New York City are barren metropolis wastelands.
Through my open window at night, I hear crickets. No, I don’t live in some upscale apartment near Central Park or in the ‘burbs. I live in a cool section of Manhattan, just blocks from lively bars and restaurants. I’ve also discovered several awesome green areas, including Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Union Square Park, where there is a farmers’ market several days a week.
2) When they say there is something here for everyone… they mean it.
Rock climbing? Yup, they’ve got both indoor and outdoor climbing covered. Cycling? That’s here too. Organic gardening? No problem! I even read a great story in Edible Brooklyn about local beekeepers. Now what was I worried about?
3) People are wildly into scheduling.
Everyone knows someone in New York and, if you’re lucky, they’ll introduce you. If this happens, you can expect to hear from the New Yorker almost immediately. The current record for my experience is two minutes (i.e.: someone passed on my contact information and their friend responded almost instantaneously. We had brunch the next morning.). Best of all, people want to meet you. Emails and telephone calls often involve several dates and times that would work for coffee or a meal. New Yorkers get things done.
4) Strangers are exceptionally friendly
Contrary to popular belief, New Yorkers are rather chatty! While I thought I would need to butter up the locals, I found immediate connections instead. Over the last week, I enjoyed marvelous conversations with cab drivers, coop volunters, shop owners, people on the street and new friends.