Being new in town means there are a couple of things I’ve had to get used to, certain rites of passage to make me knowledgeable in the NYC way. Some of them include:
Changing of the Clocks
About two Saturdays ago, at midnight, the clocks went forward an hour. When I didn’t see my iPhone make the change itself, I manually adjusted it – along with my brain in an attempt to get used to the fact that I had now literally lost an hour of my life. While I slept, the iPhone did what it usually does and adjusted itself so that when I arose I had made myself actually lose another hour, and had skipped to two hours ahead! It’s quite something to wrap one’s head around, – a by-product of being in a city that actually experiences defined seasons.
In South Africa, the seasons aren’t as precise as they are here, which is also why I’ve had to get used to all this talk of the weather and new bulletins filled with reporters standing outside in the snow/in a rain puddle/in a sunny Central Park.
While in SA, I used to bemoan the fact that sports got too much attention, and the arts not enough. So I sort of boycotted a lot of sporting events, except of course, the Soccer World Cup. But here, where pages of newspapers are dedicated to reviews, interviews and in-depth analysis of the creative arts, it feels like it’s almost okay to let my guard down and take part in events like Super Bowl Sunday. Learning one’s Green Bay Packers from the Pittsburgh Steelers gave me a quick lesson in US geography too!
No one does it like they do in New York. For this year’s St Patrick’s Day, the city hosted the world’s biggest St Paddy’s Day parade, the 250th anniversary, where Irish-born novelist Mary Higgins Clark was the Grand Marshall. I met members of the Irish Garda who’d been flown in especially to walk alongside their NYPD counterparts. It was very festive!
In honour of the annual celebration of Greece’s Independence Day, a parade took place along 5th Avenue, bringing all the Hellenes of the state together. Cypriots were also there and it was a great show of pride and solidarity.
Then there are also some unofficial initiations that take place. Like experiencing a snow blizzard for the first time, or being caught in the rain, running down Fifth Avenue.
Losing your monthly subway card, which you paid $104 dollars for, is another. Yes, they make them flimsy and prone to falling out one’s pocket, but it will teach you to look after your personal items a lot more carefully when you have to fork out the money again! Being at the mercy of the Metro Transportation Authority when a train suddenly stops underground, with no announcement of how long the delay will be, is something I’ve also had to get used to. Bumping into someone when they unexpectedly stop dead in their tracks is yet lesson I’ve quickly learned – along with how to do a quick double-step and dodge injury.
Another kind of initiation is that into the New York dating scene, which is a whole other post of its own. Suffice to say, it requires facing the reality of being in a city where the women outnumber the men something ridiculous, like seven to one.
It’s still early days here, so I imagine I’ll be discovering a lot more rites of passage as the days – and the metro cards go by.