How Not To Get Mugged In Yonkers While Holding An Umbrella
Last time I was in New York, just under a month ago, the city was in the grip of a withering heat wave and suffocating under nearly 110 degree temperatures and enough humidity to drown birds in flight. Tuesday morning, when my plane landed, the celestial sluices were open, the rain was falling in torrents and it was barely 70 degrees. Nice. After an $80 cab ride (from the JFK airport to my cousin's apartment to drop off my luggage and then straight on to NYU), my first official act in NYC was a stop at a drugstore to purchase an unfortunately-forgotten umbrella. Never one to mind the rain (blame it on my Oregon genes), I enjoyed navigating the sea of undulating umbrellas that the sidewalks quickly became.
My favorite moment of the day was turning a corner and chancing upon a magical moment with the Empire State Building. A white fog bisected the great building. Not low enough to cloak its street-level origins and not high enough to mask it's straining top, the fog crept through the air like fast-moving smoke, dividing the steel and cement skyline at its waist.
The walk got me reflecting on my new city--traversing its streets, sitting in its taxis and leaping aboard its subways. And here's the incredibly naive and optimistic decision I've come to: I have determined that I will not become the rude, joyless, apathetic New Yorker everyone imagines when they think about this city. (What an idealist, this being my first day and all.) All I ever hear is that one should never make eye contact on the street, never say hello, never, in essence, acknowledge that the 6 million other people streaming past you, in fact, exist. Forget that. It goes against who I am. This is a moral issue. There's not enough kindness here and I'd love to do my tiny part. I want to do it just to spite those who say it isn't possible. I'll show you. I'll be happy.
I was in a rush to get to the campus. This week is full of a smattering of orientation classes with fun titles like: "How Not To Get Mugged in New York," and "How Not To Get Lost and End Up In Yonkers." OK, those aren't the official names, but they are the official subjects. The rain slowed my progress this morning and I missed the first class. With some unexpected time on my hands, I stopped to pick up my student ID, a task that, with a line stretching around the block, took far longer than I'd anticipated and so I missed yet another class. By the time I did make it to a session on using the school's computers, I was so tired (I had to get up shortly after 3 am in order to get out of Florida in time to catch my flight) I had a really hard time staying awake.
The final event of the day and the only mandatory one was the Cinema Studies Department Orientation early in the evening. I can't say I know much more about NYU's film school now than I did this morning, other than some technical information. So far, my biggest impressions of the Tisch School of the Arts have come from, what I assumed to be undergraduate drama and dance students. Lithe, loud, oh-so melodramatic, and gathering in packs like ferocious predators, I knew I had to be in the right building.
Now I am off to catch the subway back to my cousin's place. I haven't seen her in nearly a decade (not to mention her husband or two-year-old son) and I am looking forward to an evening of familiar faces in an unfamiliar place.
But first I have to get from here to my subway stop without getting mugged for smiling.