Neale Donald Walsch once said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” This first weekend has proven that mantra to me throughout. I am in a new city, where I am a minority for the first time in my life, and I barely know anyone. That’s a lot to take on at once. But someone told me today that to do what I am doing here takes a great deal of courage- very true. You can’t walk down the street worrying about a plan or where you will eat your next meal, you just have to go. Go somewhere new. See something new. It’s good for you to push yourself like that, I believe.
Already, i find myself becoming more open here. Like I said, I do not come from any areas of great diversity. In fact, if you wanted to find the sheer opposite of my little neighborhood in Brooklyn, I believe Sammamish, WA might just fit the bill. That’s not a bad thing, however. I have never thought about myself as close-minded or bigoted, but when you all of a sudden live amongst people of every nationality, religion, and SES, there are moments when you might feel anxious, apprehensive, or downright scared. I had my first moment of fear today, in fact.
The train systems here are fairly complex. Efficient, but complicated if you do not educate yourself on their operation. Mara, my roommate, warned me to check service advisories for the tracks I take during weekend traffic, as they tend to change. For instance, today, heading back from Manhattan to Brooklyn, the C train I normally take was running express (meaning it only stopped at a few major hubs along its usual path, skipping local stops, like mine), which put me 3 stops north of my street. That may not sound like much, but when I came out of the station, I found myself to be the only caucasian face as far as the eye could see. Now, I was fully prepared to walk south down that street and not worry, as I didn’t want to feel paranoid. However, when my phone died, I stopped and asked a cop if I was headed back the right way to Waverly. He seemed very concerned that I was alone, and put me on the next bus that was heading south, saying I shouldn’t walk that distance alone. This experience made me feel several things A) thankful for police B) foolish, as it made me see that sometimes I have to listen to my gut saying “no no no go right back down into that subway station” and C) Mara wasn’t kidding when she said it wasn’t far from the apartment that you can see the neighborhoods change in the matter of safety. Thankfully, I know what mistake I made (I had to transfer trains 2 stops back), so I will not be reliving this situation again.
Shifting gears. Last night, I met up with a friend of a friend for dinner on the Lower East Side, where we found an amazing hole-in-the-wall italian place. The food was good and very reasonably priced, and the restaurant was just around the corner from the very popular bars in the area. Rachel’s friend from school is also interning here this summer, so she joined Rachel and I and we all headed to Spitzer’s. Spitzer’s was a good choice, as it were, as we met a couple of nice friendly New York guys (the place was a watering hole for attractive young professionals), who took us to a couple more bars. The one that stood out to me, which I had read about already, was called Beauty and Essex.
In the style of a speakeasy circa the 1920’s, the entrance to Beauty and Essex is in the back of a pawn shop. Very cool. Beauty and Essex is as it sounds- beautiful. A giant chandelier hangs in the foyer, with a wraparound staircase leading to the upstairs bar. Marble, mirrors, dim lighting, and expensive drinks make Beauty and Essex home to some rich, attractive people. If I had not had my drinks bought for me, there would be no way I could have afforded it- thank god not all New Yorkers fulfill their stuffy and impersonal stereotypes!
Today, I woke up at the leisurely hour of 11, and watched some True Blood (on which I
am admittedly completely hooked, despite its undeniably trashy nature), before heading out to the city. There, I met up with another friend-of-a-friend, well, a cousin-of-a-friend, for coffee near NYU. The area around the law school, Washington Square, is beautiful, with classy homes and lots of impressive architecture. I was hoping to explore for longer, but my phone was dying, so I made the right decision to head back to Brooklyn.
I’m keeping it low-key tonight. I’ll probably watch a few episodes, have a small dinner, then head to bed early. I start work tomorrow at 10, so I want to be well rested and feel prepared for my first day at Common Cause. Fingers crossed that I don’t get lost or make a complete fool out of myself!