The pace of life is more high octane here in New York City than back in North Carolina where I come from. I’ve adapted over time. I notice lately I walk much faster. When a couple of slow tourists are plodding ahead of me on the sidewalk oggling tall buildings and taking pictures of people selling hot dogs, I dance around nervously looking for an opportunity to pass. I’m like a driver on a speedway just looking for a sliver of space to wedge his car into to move up one position.
You are not supposed to stop dead on a sidewalk in New York City. This is an unwritten rule. Other pedestrians who received no prior warning of your sudden stop will bump up against you or at least pile up behind you anxiously awaiting a restart as they hop from foot to foot under a caution flag. Walking with my wife recently in single file on a crazy crowded mid-town sidewalk, I asked her to “pull over” into a nearby drug store. I needed to ask her something.
I should have known I was getting life in the fast lane when I moved here. Several of my co-workers back in Wilmington where I worked at a group home grew up in parts of New York and Connecticut. My first few days on the job working with Paula Bavarro and Colleen Tranchon (two merry and lively Italian imports from Long Island) were frustrating for them.
They buzzed around me like bees around a hive, doing four times as much work at seven times the speed I could muster, talking a blue streak and calling each other idiots in every way possible while laughing. Being from the South, I could never manage to call anyone an idiot out loud and to their face. That’s not how we roll.
It’s possible we might call someone else an idiot in a somewhat oblique way in a hushed voice to another dear friend. We would follow that comment closely with a “Bless-his-heart.” It works like this. “He just ran over the mailbox while mowing the lawn again. Bless his heart.” The blessing is supposed to take the sting out of the commentary on the person’s intelligence, though sometimes it’s simply a verbal punctuation mark of sorts to suggest that the person is extra stupid and in great need of our patience and prayers.
But I am in the chase now. Part of the matrix. Faster and more furious than ever. I’ve quickly trod through Downtown Manhattan many a time. But I have things to do and people to see. I hurtle into adventures in the mean streets of Brooklyn for a movie, Queens for a science fair for Avery and the Bronx for a day at the zoo. Out of my element. Light on my feet and plunging fast into new boroughs and neighborhoods. Going boldly where I have never been.
Ahead warp speed, number one. Make it so.