Twenty-nine days in New York changes a person.
For the good or for the bad, I can’t say indefinitely. But in my case, for the meantime, I believe the scales are tipping in favor of the former: I’m not quite sure, but I think I may be growing up.
Case in point: Last week I was flying on an airplane. Alone. For the very first time in my 21 years. To the seasoned lonesome traveler, this is no big feat. But to me—the girl who’s parents drove alongside her at 5mph as she pedaled the three blocks to school everyday until 6th grade—this is nothing to sneeze at. Not only am I flying by myself, I also researched a car service, called, in advance, to make arrangements, and made it out the door in time for my 5:30 am pick-up.
I’m also exhibiting other subtle characteristics that lead me to assume I’m growing up. They are little things, mildly familiar in a far-off and distant sort of way, perhaps subconsciously channeled into my mind from a movie with a storyline following some responsible adult-type. Though I could recognize them in others, these things were formerly foreign to my daily proceedings. But I’m now guilty of participating, too.
Don’t believe me? Listen to some other examples of my matured manner and aged ambiance.
I am now hailing cabs in the largest city in America, then giving directions to my destination, making small talk with the cabdriver (a character who’s, seven-and-a-half times out of ten, more socially inept and/or frightening than your standard sociopath prison-dweller), and then ultimately handling the payment process with confidence and ease. (Once again, to those of you reading this in mystified wonderment at how I can possibly consider something as basic as cab fare a feat on any level, let me remind you who you’re dealing with: A girl who still has no clue how to travel to and from the Houston Galleria (side note: I’m from Houston) but periodically attempts to anyway and then, upon realization of her utter and absurd disorientation, pulls over to the side of the road… and cries.)
On the streets in the mornings, I’m running down stairs, waiting for trains, riding the 40 minutes to work with my headphones in and no one to talk (rap) to me except Lil Wayne and the Wu Tang Clan (but really, what more do you need?) I’m walking to work alongside preposterously wealthy businessmen, dodging manic taxis and crossing busy intersections teeming with traffic and more people than you’ve ever seen in your life at one time…then doing it all over again at night. Only this time it’s dark and cold, and you’re walking down streets you’ve never seen before with people you will never see again. It’s eerily lonesome and faintly depressing, if you really sit and think about it. Which is why I simply pick up my pace (I’m now passing up the natives! And they call themselves “New Yorkers”…) and remind myself that I’m in one of the most glamorous and exhilarating cities in the world—and for a mere four months.
At work, I’m making business calls and asking for things like “price quotes” for presidential suites and penthouses. I’m getting faxes that read “ATTN: Hayley Frank” sent to my desk. Oh, did I mention my hours are from 9 am- 6pm? (It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, simply because I don’t aspire for a life spent chained to my desk and, frankly, I’m troubled by the fact that the other practitioners at the office stay well into the late-evening.)
I’m also engaging in frequent vernacular with random people I come across on a daily basis. I find myself encouraging the downtrodden bathroom janitor when I overheard her mindlessly mopping the dull, grimy tile and ruing the establishment of public restroom facilities everywhere and the unappreciative people who use them. At first, I tried hard to ignore her lamenting, which I could hear clearly from inside my stall. Being as it was a New York airport restroom, I momentarily considered staying inside my safe stall as opposed to venturing outside of it and risking any sort of eye contact. (I’ve learned eye contact is a one-way-ticket to Crazy Town; once you lock eyes with a Crazy, even momentarily, you’re a goner. It’s all down hill from that point.) But when I emerged, she simply looked up and smiled to ask me what time it was, as her shift ended at 8 am. I breathed easy and offered up my vast repertoire of professional advice, telling her, “All in a day’s work, eh??” and “Is it Friday yet?” and, right before I rounded the corner, through in a solid, “Stick it to the man, Margot!” for good measure.
All of this brought me to the completely valid and rational executive decision: I think I’m going to try and quell this growing-up thing as long as humanly possible. Who’s with me?
*I know you’ve probably seen a million and one pictures like this, and you’ll classify this as a forgettable display of annoying tourism, like I would. But trust me, this one’s different. Because I took it. So look at it: