New York, New York: Seeing the city through my sister’s eyes
My older sister went to New York in 2003 to study at the New York Film Academy and has lived there until 2016. When she came back for the wedding of my brother, we had a long talk about, well, New York. Tinanong ko siya, first, what she loves most about New York, then what she hates most about living in New York.
Having lived there for so long, she considers herself a New Yorker. She admits that it is the only city in the States that she knows. Maybe if she had studied in Atlanta, or Houston or Seattle, she would probably Love those places as much as New York. So, it was her first love. The thing she loves most about New York is the subway. Even without a car, her mobility was not impaired because she could go anywhere around the five boroughs of New York, including parts of New Jersey quickly, safely and conveniently.
Not surprisingly, another thing she loves about New York is the Central Park. Even in the middle of the city, you can watch the seasons change in Central Park. There are so many beautiful places there that take you out of the rat race. You can have the isolation and quiet of a forest, then a 15 minute walk later, you are back to the asphalt and concrete jungle.
Broadway is also an attraction for her. She may not be able to afford the regular shows in Broadway, but afternoon matinees can be enjoyed just as well. Broadway is also the magnet for artists and performers from around the world. It is also where film makers from all over look for new talents, not only actors but also editors, script writers, cinematographers, lights and sounds men, and next to Hollywood, New York is the next biggest producer of cinema films. There are also off-broadway productions where amateurs can produce plays on a shoestring budget that can end up an SRO in Broadway. Maraming magic at milagro na nangyayari sa Broadway.
The New Yorkers and the New York state of mind. Whether you are White, Black, Latino, Jewish, Asian, even an immigrant from anywhere, once you have lived in New York for a time, you can claim your equality with every other New Yorker. Many don’t. The New York attitude is one of the things she loves, and also hates. When one says: I’m from New York, many Americans know that this carries a lot of baggage.
Greenwich Village is also an artist’s village from the 60’s. She loved hanging out around the village with friends at the Washington Square Park where anything goes. Dress the way you want, sing and dance in the streets. Millionaires dress in sweat pants and t-shirts while people who dress in 3 piece suits are just Pizza delivery boys. Artists do their art on cement walls, some exhibit theirs on the sidewalks. Singers and even bands set up by the park to be heard. On scorching days the fountain becomes a free pool for one and all.
What she hates is that there are many crazy people (including the police) and people high on drugs on the streets and in the subways. When something happens, no one wants to help or be involved. There are so many scammers. Her credit card had to be changed six times a year because some people are trying to hack or use it. She hates that many men who live in New York are mostly on the fast lane. They are not interested in marrying, just having a good time.
When we arrived in New York, the brother of Carlos picked us up at the airport. It was a noisy reunion as the brothers had not seen each other in about 6 years. Both the brother and his wife worked in Manhattan, but they lived in New Jersey, which is just across the river. Maraming taga New York pumupunta sa New Jersey para mag shopping dahil mas malaki ang tax sa NY. They rented an apartment in the ground floor of a small building, built in the 1950’s, with about 8 units. It was nice and well preserved. We settled down in the apartment. We were three additional adults in a two room apartment of a family of three. Pero, sanay ang Pinoy dyan. A pullout couch sofa is standard in most Filipino homes in the US.
We were meeting my sister at a midtown restaurant at 7:30 for dinner. It was end of October and New York was getting cold. And right on time, she appeared in the restaurant by 7:30. We took a walk around midtown after dinner and my Papa volunteered to move into my sister’s studio apartment the next day. My sister lived on the West side, Upper Manhattan, on Broadway Street, which was along the way to Lower Manhattan where my in-laws worked.
So the next few days, we would tell my sister where we would meet, say St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 9 AM, and they would find their way there. We would ride down to Manhattan with my in-laws and be taken to where ever the meeting place is. So that way we explored Greenwich Village, The Metropolitan Museum, spent a whole afternoon in Central Park without disrupting the schedule of my in-laws. In the evenings my in-laws would join us at a designated café or restaurant for dinner. It worked out very well. Our next travel was to my Papa’s sister in Riverdale, Maryland.