Philadelphia is the second major city I’ve lived in as an independent adult. I like living in cities; I like being able to walk to stuff, and the necessity of having to rely on your feet as well as public transit means you almost automatically build a sense of knowing the area you live in, much more intimately (though, ew… I don’t mean that in a sexual way) than you otherwise might. But Philadelphia, despite being only about an hour or so from New York by train, is a very different kind of metropolis than New York, particularly when it comes to one specific phenomenon: street garbage.
People who don’t live in New York City generally have certain opinions about the people who do live here–even if they’ve never visited at all. Without fail, when I visit my parents and siblings in North Carolina, people will approach me and whinily say things like, “How can you stand all those rude people that live in New York City?” (Keep in mind that, in my hometown, “New York City” is almost always pronounced the same way that the cowboys from the Pace Picante sauce commercials say it.)
I’m not sure what it is, but hot weather seems to draw New York City grandmothers outside. It’s strange, really—it’s kind of like moths to a flame. It’s amazing how many of them you’ll see outside in their housecoat-like dresses, pushing (usually) empty carts along, looking like they’re going to collapse at any moment. It may have something to do with the fact that many of them feel that air conditioning is a “luxury” or “too expensive,” even though they’re risking death, frankly, by being outside.
While I don’t have any hard numbers, nor do I really know where I’d go about finding those numbers, I’m going to estimate that in New York City there are probably anywhere from thirty-eight million to ninety billion people living in apartments, though those figures may be a little conservative. It’s roughly half the number of McDonald’s that we have here, or perhaps a quarter of the number of Starbucks locations in Manhattan.
Ah, New York, that great example of the “melting pot” at work… though I’m rapidly beginning to believe that the “melting pot” theory isn’t so accurate, after all. For those of you who have forgotten what I’m talking about, it’s that idea where you throw together all sorts of ethnic peoples into pot, stew them in a white wine and garlic sauce, and get a homogeneous community–or soup, as the case may be. Supposedly the United States is one gigantic “melting pot,” though it really just strikes me as more of a “tossed salad” or maybe a “chicken pot pie.” Though that soup does sound pretty good.
If there’s one thing that I miss more than anything else about college, it’s the meal plan… really, what beats the convenience of having thousands of dollars, courtesy of huge loans that you’ll have to pay back later, that allow you to eat all kinds of nutritious and delicious food at any time of the day or night? Sounds good, doesn’t it? I sure think so, but unfortunately, at Wake Forest, that’s not even close to what we had.