I have heard myself say, on more than one occasion, "To move to New York is like moving to another country."
There is a very real culture shock coming to live in the city from, literally, anywhere else, even with a moderate amount of pre-exposure to New York and its inhabitants. There is new language to learn; relational customs to distinguish; a mess of rights and wrongs to untangle.
And after a year or so in, after sorting through all of the obvious differences, I'm finding that the real cultural discrepancies are the ones that exist beneath the surface. Values are emphasized in entirely different ways in New York, in entirely different places; and while sometimes it's a matter of perceived morality, it is often also a matter of necessity.
Out of necessity is born creativity--didn't someone say that? Maybe that's why New York is also so famously electric with creative energies and serendipity. Maybe it hums between all of the residents because it must, because it's keeping everyone going, keeping them alive. It draws us outside ourselves, maybe even more often than we're comfortable with, and it insists that we view the world from that new perspective instead of the one we relate to from inside.
(New York! You might be surprisingly Christ-like!)
I've seemed to grasp this at the knowledge level, and understand it is my responsibility to come to terms with what is different from formerly learned expectations. Still it's taking awhile to sink into my heart. In the first year of novelty, to do things a different way was exciting. And in the second year--the living one, the real adjusting one--it is to mourn the old way of doing things and accept the oddities.
This year, for lack of time and for lack of space, for lack of energy and for lack of whatever else, we opted out of pumpkin-carving and painted pumpkins on the sidewalk instead. It was just a silly little thing, but it got to me. I didn't like the idea of doing it differently from how I always had.
Still, all said and done, it was just the loveliest afternoon I've had in quite awhile, bum to the cold sidewalk, watching my little artists slather masterpieces atop squash. The light was golden and the breeze was cool. We finished up with a leaf fight.
I like the box. (I might be basic?) But it's good outside too.