An essential separation

I flew into NYC this morning for meetings. No matter how good phone quality is, how great videoconferencing is, some business just requires that face-to-face interaction.

I should know; I do a lot of business that requires it. The last time I was in NYC was last week of December, and I hadn’t been there purely on business. It was a combination of work and holiday, spending time with family and friends, but also the strange avoidance of “The City” (+ Brooklyn) because work, family, and the majority of my friend group didn’t require those trips.

This morning was different. Landed at JFK, traffic-laden taxi ride to visit my mom briefly, Uber to the city for meetings, meeting, walk, meeting, walk, meeting, walk, train back to Queens and —

Wow. These people are so alone.

But, I get it, because there are just so many!

New Yorkers don’t make eye contact. I know community exists here, but it is not a broad, generalized thing. It’s bloody lonely out in these streets! I’m tired, not from my 6am flight, but from just a few hours of being seen but not seen, of being unknown and to see so many people that are unknowable–

How does anyone do it?

How did I do it? (I don’t remember)

On my walk to work everyday, at home, in The District, I have a group of gentlemen from a long-term care facility that greet me as I go by, every morning. I miss them when it’s too cold for them to be outside.

At my grocery store, if I forget my store card, the same attendant that always happens to be there the random nights I stop in on my way home from work, will put her card in and give me the discount on my groceries.

My neighborhood hardware store’s salespeople always have a kind word. As does my liquor store. As does the guy at Donburi. As does this one particular lady at Starbucks. As do random passerby who say “good morning” as you pass each other on the sidewalk. (Not a sharp “excuse me” or just a glare)

While I feel constantly seen in The District, I do not feel scrutinized, stalked, or alone. At first, it was strange… but it gives me a touch of warmth and connection which I’m only now coming to see creates the gentle ebb and flow to the starts and finishes of my days. I like it. I like feeling part of something, no, being part of something.

I will eventually find the space to truly enjoy visiting NYC. I’m closer to my family than I’ve ever been before and my real friendships have become most evident, vibrant, and alive since I’ve left – the act of choosing a friendship tends to have that effect. Plus, my line of work will keep bringing me back here regardless of desire.

But, I’m ready to catch my 9pm flight back. It’s been a long day and I’m looking forward to the warm greeting from a taxi driver at the airport, the warm greeting from the attendant in my lobby, and the simple peace of being back home.

One thought on “An essential separation

  1. I agree with you Cassandra. Sometimes the city life can be quite lonely because everyone is so busy. Sometimes a simple hello from a stranger passing by can be enough to uplift your spirit for the day. I noticed that all to well during my time at university. Going to and from classes. Even riding the bus with a lot of people but still feeling like you’re the only one on the bus. It’s crazy. But you realize that you and everyone there are riding the same boat by trying to get someone in life.
    Great post!


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