New York City's Sunday Punch

Friday, November 9, 2012 / 12:37 AM

I think New Yorkers are more expressive than a lot of people because they're constantly having to deal with and confront their, and others', emotions. New Yorkers are used to living, working, breathing in a city that throws you into crowds with zero hesitation, and they never get a moment of privacy while they're out and about living their lives. That argument on the train, that tear-soaked confession on the sidewalk, that really funny moment in the's all there, on display, and it's not just yours to enjoy; it belongs to the city.

I remember the first time I had a panic attack on the train. It was in the early days of moving to the city, and there was something overwhelming about the events in between work and my apartment, and I fought back tears so hard that I ended up blinding myself and having to let them loose anyways.

And nobody really noticed. One look around a subway car on any commute, and you'll see a thousand different emotions on the faces of the tired, the angry, the heartbroken, the joyful. It's not weird to sit on the subway and cry, and once in awhile, a kind stranger offers you a tissue or napkin to dry your face.

In California, people find sanctuary in their cars. You get inside and you turn up the music until whatever it is you're feeling subsides. People don't stand on sidewalks in California and cry like lost five-year-olds. I've stood on many sidewalks in New York and fallen apart. But so have a lot of people.

Earlier, after work, I got on the F to Brooklyn and immediately fell apart. Three seats down, there was another girl doing the exact same thing.

Living in New York has made me more emotional than I've ever been in my life. Through college, I was guarded (for many reasons), but there's something about this city that has forced me to open up. Perhaps it's the fact that the city literally fights its residents every day, with subway delays and other minor inconveniences that add up to a lot, until your soul splits open and your mind screams, "WAIT, but don't you know me??" Or maybe I've just changed so much from the person I was when I left California more than a year ago, and only now have I finally caught up to the pace of the world I live in. Or maybe it was the oddly-timed arrival of a shadowy figure who turned out to be nothing more than a metaphorical sledgehammer to my whole being (warning, friends: be careful who you trust to carry your deepest, darkest secrets) and left me with these thoughts to share, and nobody to share them with.

New York is supposed to exhaust you as much as it exhilarates you too. It's supposed to drain you and make you feel like you've given everything you have until you have no choice but to sit on a subway and cry. I think that's how you know you're doing it right: when the pangs of growing and changing, and the challenges associated with it, hit you over and over each day until you become numb, and then one day--somehow--you stand up a little bit taller and hit back.

I'll get there someday, I think.

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  1. I'd never really thought about it in those terms, but it's beautiful and apt.

    One of my earliest memories of New York was a young woman with badly-dyed hair, crouched on a stoop, smoking, looking desolate and tired. At the time, I was startled to see that *out* in the street rather than hidden away, but... it's appealing in its way, too.