|Conductor, take me to the city! Please. I mean, if you don’t mind.|
As any former city dweller who goes suburban can tell you, you quickly forget your city-livin’ skills. You get used to two-lane highways and knowing the names of your neighbors, the names of their children and the names of their children’s children. Your rough city spots become soft and gracious. You begin allowing people to make ill-timed left hand turns realizing you aren’t in any rush.
You forget how to navigate densely populated areas by foot. You encourage leisurely conversation. When you ask someone how they are, it’s not a rhetorical question any longer. You talk about your city days as if reliving the walk on role you once had as a much hipper and younger version of yourself in your made for T.V. movie.
I went to the Big Apple on Thursday. Polka dotted bindle on my back. Green, hand-knit woolen mittens and orange wool hat complete with pom-pom and oversized knit flower. I dressed up by wearing a simple housedress and boots. I used a hair dryer. I USED A HAIR DRYER.
I went into the city alone, by commuter rail. I sat in silence with other passengers. I brought the biggest purse I could find because I hear that if you are in New York, you should make all bags as bulky and unmanageable as possible. I exited the train into Grand Central Station. The tiny, city heart trapped inside my now Vermont, suburban heart began to swell. It began to beat hard and fast. Was it love? Was it confusion? Was that a STARBUCKS?
I ordered my breve latte from a woman with a headset. “Venti Breve for BPM. That’s a Venti Breve for BPM.” I couldn’t even see the barista from my place in line. Well, hot damn, I says as I slap my knee and bust out my banjo.
I had an appointment on Lexington. The city smelled like city. I deeply inhaled and then immediately regretted my decision as I was standing directly over a street grate. I began the trek. With each stride more confident, until the soles of my flat, new boots slid and I gracefully fell into a man walking in the opposite direction. No biggie. I’m a city girl today. City girls just keep going. “Thank you, sir! Sorry about that! New boots!” The look on his face was a mix of, “Lady, I don’t give a shit!” and moderate amusement. He then said, “I like your hat.” After a very genuine, “Thank you!” from me, I realized he was joking. City sarcasm! I forgot about you. Hi, old friend.
After a brisk mile point something, I saddled up to the breakfast bar and looked at my egg options. Poached, soft scrambled, over easy, over root vegetables, overwhelmingly expensive. “Yes. Hi there! Do you have a scramble yourself discount? Hello? Sir?”
Later, after lovely conversation, I headed toward my two hour and one-awkward-connection train back to Realityville. Walking swiftly. I was late. I was sure of myself. My city soul pounding the pavement with each click of my heel. My footsteps chanting, “I’m back. I’m back. I’m back. The city girl is back.” and then, I fell; four times between Lexington and 21st and Lexington and 42nd.
I love New York. I didn’t want to leave. The boots, however, I can’t leave fast enough. They are going back to the store tomorrow. You can take the girl out of the city, but, if she returns for a visit, make sure she wears shoes with tread or, so the old saying goes.