Much like anything from New York, the subway is romanticized (no, you will NOT meet the love of your life at Starbucks). But actually it’s hot, smelly, loud and full, worse even I loved it, as someone that drives 130km a day, being taken on a ride was refreshing. I was particularly surprised when on a Thursday morning (4AM to be precise) the subway was bustling. I’ve heard that New York never sleeps, but 4AM really?!
During my stay I got particularly familiar with the 6 train, that runs from the Bronx downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge. I’d start my expeditions swiping the MetroCard and then pushing through the turnstiles, battling with the people trying to get out. You never wait too long; at most 5mins. Once on the train, I found myself as an observer trying to gather a much information as I could about real New Yorkers, but as I took the train from 103rd downtown, there was no pinpointing New Yorkerism.
As the train moved from Harlem, through the Upper East Side and Midtown, the East Village, the Bowery and Chinatown, to City Hall, all type of people got on and off. Looks changed, music, gadgets, clothes, conversations, shopping bags, shoes, jobs, classes, lives and purpose. And there I sat (or more accurately stood) and wondered: where were they from, where were they going, why were they going there, who were they meeting?
Later, on my flight from JFK to OR Tambo it came to me (not the “I’m happy to be going home” feeling): I found a place where you didn’t have to be somebody to fit in, to be included. The Yankee character is not classified and being a New Yorker is not a personality but a lifestyle. It’s rare to feel so at home so quickly, and that New Yorkers take great pride in their city. Calling yourself a New Yorker is a right to be earned, but I think there’s a little New York in everyone.