No Mere City by Kate Newman

Why Riding the New York Subway Makes Me Feel at Home

by

I’ve been in New York for nearly two months, which by my amateur calculations means I’ve spent the equivalent of a long weekend on the subway.

After my office, and then my apartment (which is not mine at all, but a sublet), the parts of New York I am most familiar with are the J train from Gates Avenue to Canal Street, and the 6 train from Canal to 23rd Street, respectively.

Saying “familiar” is still a stretch. I am habitually late, which is rarely because a train is running late, and usually because a train isn’t running at all — or has decided to run right past my stop. I’ve observed that the subway signs are more like suggestions of what could happen, instead of what will. (The 6 local train is supposed to stop at Canal Street, but as I’m riding, it goes straight from Bleeker Street to Brooklyn Bridge. The 4 isn’t running at 33rd Street today, but as I grumble about my latest mistake and make my way back to the turnstiles, it shows up anyway.)

Maybe these inconsistencies are announced somewhere — but through a broken speaker, or a sign without enough tape.

Comment

1 Comment

  • Kate,
    What a terrific read! You’re in New York and you’re AWAKE! Stick to your three seconds of being incredulous and keep on writing!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New York City

New York, One Month Later

by

Twenty years ago, Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich wrote a hypothetical graduation speech, later made famous by Baz Luhrmann, offering advice to the class of ‘97 as they ventured into the unknown territory of adulthood. In addition to simple, but smart, suggestions like “wear sunscreen” and “dance,” the column contained two lines of advice about living in two places — New York and Northern California — advice my dad repeated to me after my own college graduation four years ago, when I was moving to San Francisco from Atlanta.

“You know what they say,” he offered with a smile, half encouraging me to go, and half warning me not to stay too long. “‘Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.’”

Last month, I left San Francisco for New York, and while painfully cliché, I’ve been thinking of Schmich’s words (by way of my dad) ever since I boarded the plane at SFO. After three years in San Francisco, I was ready for the struggle of a new city, and the triumph of emerging from that struggle.

Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *