On some business travels last week, I took the path train into New York from New Jersey. Every second after that 15 minute trip has been one of strangeness beneath my feet; literally from the second I stepped off the platform until now- an entire week later – the ground still feels as if it is infinitesimally shifting and churning below me as I navigate through my day.
My equilibrium has obviously been thrown off, and truthfully I am not surprised. If it’s not painfully clear by now – I am not a City Girl. Looking up at the towering buildings with not so much as a hint of space between them, jostled to and fro in crowds teeming with people more sure-footed than I, the babble of voices around me, so many of them that I cannot even distinguish my own language – it all feels completely alien to me. When I think about people who actually enjoy that swarming cityscape I almost start to feel a little uncomfortable that there could be someone out there in the world so radically different than I am.
Isn’t that ridiculous? Of course there’s someone out there who is absolutely nothing like me. There’s a lot of them, I should imagine! And yet, with regard to some subjects -The Big City chiefly among them – I cannot fathom the personality that thrives on this. I honestly cannot even conceive of how these people function.
And on some level – on many levels – I find this really concerning about myself. That I am so small minded when it comes to other people’s experiences and preferences and lifestyles. I mean it’s perfectly fine, isn’t it, if you like a thing that I don’t like? Or perhaps something I am fond of, isn’t quite to your taste? Of course it is, and most of the time, this doesn’t trip me up! But when it comes to big city living, I have to tell you, I just shut down completely. I don’t even want to hear about it. It reminds me of a line from the mob song in Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast:
We don’t like
What we don’t understand
In fact it scares us!
Unfortunately, all so awfully true. I don’t understand it, so I don’t like it, and it does scare me quite a bit.
This whole trip, by the way, was a lesson in overcoming fear. It will shock no one to know that despite my myriad, weird adventures, I’m a pretty sheltered individual. This was the first time I’ve ever rented a car, it was the first time I’ve ever had a drink my myself in a bar, the first time I have ever spent a week in a hotel room alone, the first time I have ever met a client. And I am going to be 39 next week, for pete’s sake. How have I even gotten this far in life?
And to be honest, it wasn’t just the thought of being in the city, or meeting clients, or how to stick the metro card in the ticket thing correctly (that is seriously the type of thing I worry about), it was much more than that. I haven’t been back to NJ for any lengthy period of time since I left, almost 5 years ago now. I have so many unhappy memories and unresolved issues with regard to that place and I was not keen to be in that environment again.
I could probably go on, but there’s no point to it. I did it, I went and I am back. Did I overcome any fears? Not really. I think the people in my office who work closely with me know that I am a big baby with weird neuroses, and they deal with me accordingly. There’s a lot of hand-holding, basically. I hope that because I am kind and good natured and I get my work done – they just look at it all as lovable quirks, ha!
I was so happy to arrive back in my dumb, redneck swamptown that I nearly kissed the ground. But dang, I am going to miss those bagels. They are the best thing about NJ.
I am never going to be a City Girl, one of those poised, slender, on the go women I see rushing about on the streets of NY (or wherever). I run around barefoot all day, I never brush my hair, and it takes me 10 years to tell a story. I just don’t fit in with that impossibly chic, fast-paced, 24 hour everything city and its inhabitants. But that doesn’t mean that I need to be afraid of them, I suppose. That really is dumb.
Are you a city person? A country mouse? Are you even from this planet? What are your thoughts on other places and those who live there, as opposed to where you are from? Do you have the same troubles I do? Or do you have other weird dislikes based on the things you don’t quite “get” or understand?