Welcome to New York (It's Been Waiting for You)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

I'm back in New York for a bit, mostly for my best friend's dad's memorial service but also to work out of my office for a bit (which is headquartered in Murray Hill). As I always do when I'm here, I way overbooked myself, cramming plans into every spare non-work moment - & even into a lot of my work moments, with coworker lunches, face-to-face coffee meetings, etc.

My calendar is a liiiiittle scary to look at right now, so it's safe to say that I'm feeling more than a little overwhelmed - though mostly in a good way.

Last night, though, I didn't schedule anything. Initially, I didn't make plans because I thought my flight got in a lot later; when I realized I landed earlier than I thought, though, I  opted not to make plans in case I was burnt out after travel.

I missed a lot of the workday while traveling, so I stayed at the office until 6:30, then checked into my alarmingly tiny hotel room; seriously, about the size of a boxcar. I knew I couldn't stay cooped up there while the sun was still out, so I set out to explore & to hit my daily step goals.

I ended up at a Thai restaurant called Viv, which I spotted while wandering. Turns out, they hve great happy hour specials - $6 martinis, mojitos, & margaritas - so I settled in at the bar, ordered chicken pad Thai, & read Taylor Jenkins Reid's Maybe in Another Life on Kindle.

Before I knew it, I was chatting with the bartender, Tanya, & a solo bar-goer named Kat. They'd been talking about all kinds of things - relationship woes, job stress, the possibility of getting Botox in the future - & at some point, I just... ended up in their conversation. I spent an hour & a half slurping noodles & reassuring Kat, who'd just quit her emotionally abusive job in the fashion industry, while drinking a free lychee mojito that Tanya gave me "for being friendly."

By the time I left, I felt pleasantly tipsy & emotionally fortified. 

I know not everyone likes talking to strangers but for me, sometimes it's just the ticket. These conversations - with people I know I'll never see or talk to again - help me remember that life is so much bigger than my own bubbles, than the corners & spaces I know & inhabit.

Don't we all need that reminder sometimes? It's interacting just for the sake of a bit of added humanity - & it always leaves me feel refreshed & refilled.

Afterward, I walked "home" the long way & sat alone in my verrrry tiny hotel room (it's got a twin bed), watching The Resident 9-1-1 on Hulu while writing blog posts & catching up on emails - & I felt much better about it than if I'd come right back to the room & stayed in for the night. If I hadn't ventured out solo - or if I'd scheduled every single moment of this trip - I wouldn't have met Tanya & Kat, wouldn't have gotten to interact with kind strangers, to hear about other people's lives, to get that dose of energy that comes with taking in other people's stories.

It was such a surprisingly nice night, just what I needed - without a plan in sight.

People say New Yorkers are mean, but repeated experiences here have shown me that they're not. If anything, I sometimes think New Yorkers are lonelier than the rest of us - that in a city so crammed with people & places & sights & smells & sounds & everything else that overwhelms & assaults the senses, they learn to excel at the art of shutting out the world around them.

When they let their guard down, though, & let the world back in, well - let's just say that tonight, Manhattan's friendliness made this chatty Midwesterner feel right at home.

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