Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Small Big City

Yesterday as the plane took off from La Guardia and looped north of Manhattan and headed south, I spotted my 35-story apartment complex on the Hudson River. I was immediately struck by how close my building looks to Central Park from the air and how small the island looks in general. Then I thought of all the millions of people I was looking upon: doctors, lawyers, teachers, celebrities, sanitation specialists, executives, drug dealers, transportation operators, chefs, waiters, mafia members, postal workers, socialites, homeless people, construction engineers, artists, performers, students, bloggers ... so many different people with diverse agendas all crammed into such a small place.

My building doesn't seem so far from midtown or even downtown from the sky. Yet getting around Manhattan - whether it's a commute to work, meeting friends or running errands - consumes so much time. My Monday-to-Friday commute is actually pretty nice. Just 25 minutes. But it can be the longest 25 minutes of your life when you're squished between eleven people in a subway car all trying to hold onto the same pole.

When I met David (who recently referred to me as a closet blogger) downtown for brunch and pedicures last Sunday, it took me 35 minutes to get there by train. Over half an hour to go about six miles. Later that evening, we took a cab back to the Upper West Side, where his boyfriend Chris was cooking us the best eggplant parmesan ever. We opted for a cab rather than the train because it would take too long to get to 84th Street carrying flowers, wine and a new serving plate from William Sonoma.

Today my dad drove me to an orthodontist appointment in Clyde (roughly 30 miles from Asheville) in about 20 minutes. Dr. Irvine (the best orthodontist in the world) took a quick look at my teeth and retainers, and my dad I were back in Asheville in less than an hour roundtrip. We ate a light lunch at Applebee's, stopped by the hospital to get his schedule and say hi to his coworkers, and had plenty of time to spare prior to my minor outpatient oral surgery at Dr. Scully's clinic (the best maxillofacial surgeon in the world). The surgery took about 45 minutes, and my dad and I made stops at CVS pharmacy and Wendy's and arrived home soon thereafter.

Total time spent on orthodontics, Applebee's, visit at dad's job, outpatient surgery, CVS and Wendy's?

Five hours.

Entire commute combined, we virtually drove from Inwood to the Financial District roughly five times today.

When it comes to going the distance in Manhattan, it's all about perspective. You might know you're a New Yorker when you stop thinking in miles and attribute all distances to blocks.

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