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New York Tale

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DSC02160New York 11:30 AM, the Amtrak train from Boston pulls in. The conductor helps me (and all the other passengers that get off at this station) take down my oversized bag. He says some polite words that just fly in and out of my ears. After two weeks of dealing with so much friendliness, I start taking it for granted. I mumble something back. It seems that here in America I never can react soon enough with the pleasantries; I am pretty sure that my Eastern-European rudeness is somehow visible although I am really struggling to keep up the appearances.

The air is so humid here in the station and the dimmed lights and steamy atmosphere make it look like a thriller scene; still, I feel relieved to get out of the ice box I was in. If someone ever came back from a USA visit and told you jokingly about the Americans’ passion for air conditioning, well, they weren’t kidding! And let me tell you, this together with the ice that comes with every single drink you order, could easily become a problem for a typical Romanian girl whose mother never let her drink out of the fridge or never-ever sit in a draught.

Outside, finally! And now down on the 8th Avenue till 46th Street to our hotel. My oversized bag is rolling behind me, sometime stumbling into my feet and unavoidable into some other peoples’ feet.

The sidewalk is so full that I can hardly get through. I have always considered myself a big city girl so I think I know how to solve this situation, I start pushing and trying to get myself across with what I would call at least moderate force.

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At one point I feel my luggage wheels run over someone’s foot. I feel already very feisty from the heat, the agoraphobia, that I didn’t know I suffered from until just now, and I feel ready to snap at the person that dared intersect with my trajectory. I take my eyes up from the ground, where I have been keeping them in order to avoid the masses of pedestrian traffic that was flowing with and against me, and I look back to see the person that was blocking my way. He is drifting aimlessly perpendicularly to anyone else. I am prepared to open my mouth and… But something stops me, and I close it back: the person in front of me is blind and now getting off  the sidewalk into the street…

I panic: NO please, DO NOT BE BLIND! Anywhere else but not here, not in this city! I look to see if there is a special traffic stop button for blind persons at the crossing, but New York takes its pride and beauty in being dysfunctional, so of course there is none! In the meantime the masses I was mentioning before push me further and I find myself zombie like feeling that I have to carry on with my marching, while still desperately trying to look back to see if the object of my worries is still in sight.

 I’ve lost him behind a big parked car. I get nervous. He really must have gotten into the street now. I squint and hope for the best while still marching further… BOOM! I hear a loud noise behind me… Now I’ve stopped! I don’t care if the other pedestrians are going to walk over me. What happened? Where did he go? Did a car hit him? Did I just imagine the noise? I cannot see anything anymore but the flowing traffic on the street and on the sideway. I wait a moment longer, to see if the people are gathering or if there is concern or agitation behind me. I don’t see anything. It all flows as it was before and I flow along with everything and everyone else but not really letting the doubt in my mind go away. I walk ahead, the street is full of colorful beautiful commercials and buildings, my attention is distracted and even if I felt unease before it all seems to all fade away in my mind…

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This experience is how I would summarize my brief visit to America and the iconic city of New York. Besides beautiful things, impressive majestic sceneries, really great people, that amazed me through the generosity and openness; the truth is that the current flows fast and if you are not flowing with it, to more colorful beautiful places, you risk being run over by the harsh reality.


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