The fact that New York offers so many attractions, cultural events and concerts makes your heart grow but also can get on your last nerve. When I check weekly listings of what’s in store for me in NY, on the one hand I’m happy that the city offers so much, but on the other I realize that I won’t be able to take part even in a moderate part of those events. There are a couple of reasons for that, but the major one is: THE DISTANCES. I will be honest: distances over here often drive me crazy! Every part of this great metropolis offers something else, which in practice means you need much time to get to the place you happen to be interested in. In order to see just one exhibition you may have to devote as much as an entire day. Once, me and a bunch of friends went to a museum in Manhattan (it was at 88th St.) and then headed for a concert in Brooklyn. It took us an hour to get to the museum and another hour and a half to get to Brooklyn (and then an extra hour to get back). Add to that the multiple problems with public transport. I love New York City subway, but it never fails to disappoint me just when I need it most. When I’m in a hurry, the train is always late, or doesn’t come at all, because „something has just happened in Lower Manhattan”. It feels like hours before I reach my destination. I realize that technically you can utilize this time, for example for reading, but more often than not the subway is so crowded that your hands are more preoccupied with something to hold onto for dear life than with holding a book. And when you reach a free seat, the rocking of the train can easily make you fall asleep (which always happens in my case).
Yes, I realize that big city life never promised anyone to keep all events in just one place. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m irritated by how much time can be wasted on commuting here. I’m not the only one. As I told you before, New Yorkers don’t have time to waste. What it means in practice, is that more often than not they only take advantage of what is happening in their immediate neighborhood. That in turn is what makes New York’s cultural space so rich and diverse – every neighborhood is trying to organize something interesting. Looking from this standpoint, the oft-heard question „Where do you live?” is not that stupid at all. The answer you give implies a series of facts about what is „happening” in your neighborhood: „good restaurants”, „a park”, „museums” or „good clubs”. If you don’t have any of those, then… there’s a long commute in store for you.
The distances are at the top of my list of things that irritate me most about New York City. It’s them that make time shrink so much over here that there are not enough hours in a day and visiting your friends can be postponed forever (and ultimately make the bond you share with them weaker). The advantage is that you can aquire many new logistical skills while navigating your life in NY. One never stops to learn.