Current Tunes: Thunder, Imagine Dragons
“OMG,” she snarled aloud. Not directly at me, but with enough volume plus a little shove to my elbow to show her distaste of my presence as I squeezed my body against the other human sardines on the L train. I frustratingly shot back, well in my head of course, “Excuuuuse me, princess. You live in NYC. It’s rush hour. Did you forget? Does someone need to remind you this is how we roll?” Ha. As if I was a local or something. Then my West Coast roots tugged at my heart and I scolded myself for being quick to judge. Maybe she had a tough morning. Or maybe she’s an agoraphobic. Or maybe she is just a natural grumpy cat. But in that moment, I realized that the NYC hustle bustle attitude had become a part of me. I get miffed when people stand on the left side of the subway escalators, which everyone knows is left open to bypass the squatters. Duh. It also drives me bonkers when people get on the subway before letting people off. And when a homeless man comes on making a loud announcement about their troubles I awkwardly (and ashamedly) shift in my seat and try not to make eye contact. Yikes bikes, lately I feel like I’m always talking about the subway. (Click here to read my obsession with subway shoes…) But the new game I play on the subway is called Spotify Psychic. Basically I try to guess what’s running though the head phones of my fellow commuters. Like this mid 30s Yankees fan to my left, I’m guessing some sort of funk rock, maybe Red Hot Chili Peppers. The lady to my right watching her screen is probably watching a dramatic telenovela with a dreamy Latin male lead. And the suit across from is definitely zoning out to some NPR. And as much as I love using public transport to bypass the trouble of parking and traffic, it’s the one thing I find slightly terrifying about this city. Let me explain.
When I moved here, a few people from back home asked if I was afraid or nervous. At first I was confused. Huh? They were inferring that NYC is such a target for mass tragedy and it may not `be a safe choice right now. Which I get, it is an iconic city. But hey, you live in California…what makes you think you’re exempt? Oh we see you, North Korea. In all seriousness, one scenario that does scare me is an incident possibly happening in the underground. Imagine hoards of scrambling scared people, trying not to get trampled, and climbing through the maze of stairwells and platforms…I know you’re probably reading this and are weirded out. Like why plant this idea in some one’s head, Miriam? But come on, I’m no genius and I’m sure I’m not the first person to dream up this nightmare. Anyways, I will say after the lower Manhattan attack this past Halloween, it did shake me a little. With the reminder that terrorism in our country is very much alive, I took a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum two days after the attack. Wowie. I highly recommend it. The museum does a beautiful job of recreating the day with a minute by minute timeline as well as an aftermath portion. There’s live video of the destruction, audio of plane passengers calling home and flight attendants attempting to get help, and personal stories of survivors from the buildings. There’s old wreckage of ambulances that were destroyed when the buildings crumbled to the ground. I found myself brushing away tears as I silently walked through the memories of bravery and loss. I will say it was very bizarre to be experiencing this amongst tourists though. I imagine it must be what local Germans might feel if I were to visit a Holocaust concentration camp museum. Like you understand the depravity but may not really resonate with its effects.
I also couldn’t help but reflect on my own whereabouts as an eleven year old on September 11, 2001. I arrived to school by bus and I remember lining up for class and staring at the sky with my peers, while rumors that “we are all gonna get bombed” circulated throughout the playground. We walked into class confused and my teacher had tears streaming down her face. Between being on Pacific Time and our preteen age, most of us had no idea what was going on. She pulled herself together, dried her eyes, and finally she spoke saying, “Students, something terrible has happened and I want everyone to sit quietly for a moment.” She turned on the class television to the news and that’s where I remember seeing footage of a plane crashing into one of the Towers for the first time. After awhile, she shut it off, made us all stand up, and we said the Pledge of Allegiance together before debriefing on what we just had witnessed.
And here we are sixteen years later. Still fighting terrorism. Still fighting hate. Still fighting ignorance. Every day the news reminds us how truly broken we are. Another mass shooting, another secret sexual assault, another political scam or fraudulent report. All around I constantly hear people commenting on how terrible society has become, yadda, yadda, yadda. Personally I think it’s debatable if humanity is really more “evil” than it was a thousand years ago. Our access to social media and the Internet just advertises our brokenness in a quicker manner. Regardless of the answer to that debate, I think the bigger question is how do we respond to these trials? How do we create change?
I am so thankful that we live in a country where are voices are allowed. That it is legal for men and women alike to protest, write letters to Congress, and exercise the right to vote. However, I urge everyone to remember that there is a place where you can make a direct positive effect on society in an instant. It might sound simple or silly but it’s through how you live your every day life. Like marching is all good and dandy but if you can’t hold your tongue when you want to speak ill of your co-worker or take a hot second to hold the door for your fellow neighbor, what good is fighting the large battles if we don’t start at the most basic level in every day human interaction? I am telling you, smaller scale efforts can have a large impact. So if you get anything out of this today, I guess my message is to DO ORDINARY THINGS WITH EXTRAORDINARY LOVE.
I just want to end with recognizing that I am no where near perfect. Just how I wanted to give attitude right back that girl on the subway. But we have to try. And I love because I was loved first and I know my Maker created me specifically for this purpose. Regardless of what you believe, I think we can all agree that humans matter. So go out there and love your neighbor. And see what happens. Because chivalry is not dead unless you choose for it to be.
Okay…so that got deeper than I intended. Woof. Lastly I just wanted to do a special shout out to my travel wife and dear dear friend, Kaitlin. Three and a half years ago we met. Six months after that we decided we would travel nurse together (but it would take another half year for us to grow a pair and actually quit our jobs together). And now after several years and assignments together, she is officially taking off her travel nurse cap as she goes to plan her new chapter of life with her fiancé. It’s been an incredible journey and she was the final push that made this dream become a reality. While we loved exploring each new city together, I cherish the many nights spent in matching onesie pajamas, watching terrible reality television with a healthy dinner of stove top popcorn and a bottle of red wine most. Cheers to you, my dear. xoxo.
FIVE MORE WEEKS IN NEW YORK CITY. YIIIIIIIIIKES. I’ll be spending Thanksgiving here as well so Macy’s Day Parade, here I come! And am going to beat you to it…where next? Well, when I know, you’ll be the first to find out. Promise.
Cheers and Happy Turkey Day,