These were taken before the storm. We were lucky in my neighborhood; we’re on higher ground and far enough from the water that the worst of our worries were downed trees, a few crushed cars and scattered outages. But a lot of my friends and their families were not so lucky. The skyline is eerily dark at night. But NYC is resilient and life continues to go on. It will be awhile before our city gets back to normal, but it’s inspiring to see everyone coming together and helping each other out.
New Yorkers can surprise you.
I had mini-anxiety attacks at the mere thought of mingling with the city’s masses – often typecast as brash and self-serving – upon my initial jaunt to NYC, back when I was still very young. I warned my mother, always one to make friends with the most unlikely characters, not to talk to people on the streets or the subways, lest we get thrown into the train tracks or fall victim to an eye-roll. Never one to listen to me or anyone else, my mom made it her mission to start a conversation with every person she found within our reach. People gave us directions without hesitation, recommended restaurants and sites to see, and were generally – surprisingly, to an admittedly naive and presumptuous first timer like me – friendly across the board. I, like many other visitors I’ve had since I moved here, made the mistake of listening to the rumors that New Yorkers are an unfriendly bunch. What I realized on that first trip and what I’ve reiterated over and over since then, is that New Yorkers are just very focused and forever in a hurry. That’s not to say there aren’t those who fit that aforementioned stereotype, but you’ll find them anywhere. If you stop to chat or ask for directions, you’d be surprised how many of them – how many of us – are friendlier than you’d think. And even when they’re not friendly, you can sure find some interesting characters.
During times of crisis, I realize more than ever how much of a strange, sometimes unspoken sense of community there is in this city. We just rarely have a chance to slow down and recognize it.