I read Allison’s blog post today about an older man who sat down next to her in a cafe and started to talk about his life. It made me really, really miss New York City.

I’ve often encountered people like the man she talks about in New York, on park benches or in a subway car, outdoor cafes or just waiting at the bus stop. I miss hearing their stories, however ridiculous they can sound. I haven’t encountered anyone like that here in San Francisco, though admittedly I don’t spend as much time as I used to sitting in public spaces. I walk to work, so I don’t sit on a subway or bus for hours of my day commuting. The weather is cold enough here where I wouldn’t want to sit in a park reading, and even if I did that would mean leaving Louie inside the apartment by himself.

I lament the fact that this has happened—I actually miss my commute because it gave me extra nap time in the morning, and plenty of time to read books. I miss running into people I knew from high school on the bus and complaining about how packed the subway is to a random stranger squashed in next to me on the train.

I also miss looking up and actually seeing the tall buildings stretch into the sky and poke the clouds. Here, it’s foggy in the early morning and in the evenings. The sky is often rather grey at these times, and while the buildings DO still “poke” the clouds (if the clouds aren’t already swallowing them whole) they’re not nearly as tall as the ones in New York. The space around is almost too open for me and I find myself longing for the comfort of the buildings padding my view on all sides.

Is that strange?

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  • Reply mangochutney August 12, 2010 at 5:50 am

    I don’t think it’s strange at all. You left behind all the things you were used to, that you have grown to expect from your home town.

    I live in a small town here in Germany (Trier, roughly 140.000 souls) and my parents live in an even smaller town (roughly 9000 souls). I love to have woods and vineyards in 10 minutes walking distance from my apartment/house.

    When I went to Beijing for a semester it was unsettling.
    Don’t get me wrong, it was an insanely great time, that I wouldn’t want to have missed, but there was also the insane size of the city, the insane masses of people, the masses of insane people, the insane amount of dirt in certain places, the insane levels of noise…
    Add to that the fact that China has an entirely different culture and I really found myself missing the small town.
    I went to the Summer Palace every other week, just to get some peace and quiet.

    BUT: In your case I think it’s a matter of settling-in.
    Your habits will change, you will adapt and find new “little things” in SF that will bring you through the day.
    I’ve been to NYC only once (last October) and I immediately fell in love with the city — not the least of reasons being, that I could talk English all day — but I bet SF has its charms, too, you just haven’t been exposed long enough.



  • Reply Carolynne August 12, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    No, I don’t think it’s strange at all. I mean that is where you grew up. It’s really the only place you’ve ever known. It’s home. You still need time to grow to love SF. There will be things you will miss if you ever leave it. It’s those little things that you remember whenever you leave a certain place. Don’t worry 🙂

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