We love the excitement, the endless variety of food and art and culture and sex and music and madness, the ability to get almost anything we want at any hour of the day by placing no more than three phone calls, the history, the beautiful people, the fashion, the pockets of comfort and familiarity we carve out for ourselves, and the sense of being smack in the middle of...everything.
We hate the ridiculous cost of everything from living space to cigarettes, the stench, the summer's humidity, the winter's frigidity, the dirty cops and politics, the interminably hectic pace, the noise, the conflict, the filth, the rampant materialism, and the sense of being smack in the middle of the favorite target of terrorists the world over.
There are things that happen here that just don't...and couldn't... happen anywhere else. Some of those things, like the Mermaid Parade and Summerstage and annual the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center, are further reasons to love New York, and to stay here. Others, like what happened to me this morning...not so much. I was just trying to get to work, you see...
I was standing blearily on the sidewalk, waiting for the bus. That's all. When the driver pulled up, he failed to slow down enough, swung the corner of the bus WAAAAAAY up onto the sidewalk, and very nearly ended my existence. I jumped about three feet back, barely evading the fifteen tons of immediate death swerving toward me at twenty-five miles an hour. For the second time in a week, my life flashed before my eyes due to some asshole's poor driving skills.
When I got on the bus, I was understandably a bit shaken. I smiled nervously at the bored-looking, forty-something driver and mentioned quietly that he had cut a bit close for comfort.
"Where was you standin'?" he demanded.
"On the sidewalk. Clearly you saw me. "
"Yeah well, that part of the sidewalk is my territory. You don't need to be standing there."
To say that I was incredulous is like calling Paris Hilton vapid and repellent.
"Dude...are you kidding me? Are you telling me that it's MY FAULT that you nearly just killed me with this bus?"
"Did you just call me DUDE?"
"Answer the question, SIR, " I spit back.
By this point, a hush had fallen over the standing-room only bus crowd, mostly composed of giggling school kids and sullen working poor on their way to the salt mines.
"Yeah, you damn right it's your fault. You stand in the way, the bus gonna hit you!"
"In the WAY? On the SIDEWALK? You have a bus full of CHILDREN here, and you mean to tell me that it's okay to HIT THEM WITH THE BUS if they're STANDING ON THE SIDEWALK?" (There were several mothers accompanying their kids. I wanted to make sure they heard that part very clearly.)
He stopped the bus and opened the door.
"Why don't you just take your chances with someone else then, lady?"
"Ooooooh!" erupted from the kids.
I couldn't help it, I started laughing. This moron had just nailed the coffin shut on his own job.
"You know what, SIR? That's an excellent idea. Clearly you should not and will not be trusted with MY safety. " I looked him in the eye and smiled before I got off. "Don't think for a second that this is over. SIR."
I made note of the bus number and was on the phone with the MTA before he had pulled away from the sidewalk. Yes, I am one of "those people." A squeaky wheel. A formal complaint was been filed, and believe me when I tell you that I will not stop until that sonofabitch no longer has the opportunity to use a fucking city bus as a weapon.
Then I was off the phone, and by myself once again. My hands were shaking. I was furious. I was anxious. I had come close to dying. It was 8:15 in the morning.
It occurred to me then that I'd just had yet another "only in New York" moment. It goes without saying that this was not of the Rockefeller Christmas tree variety. Where else in the world would a fucking city employee be anything but apologetic for nearly causing someone grave bodily harm with his carelessness? Where else would someone think he could get away with something so awful and ridiculous? Nowhere. NO. GOD. DAMN. WHERE.
Which brings me back to my original point. Lately, my New York love/hate balance-o-meter has been shifting noticeably toward "hate." More and more often, I think of the city as my gorgeous, charming, talented boyfriend who treats me like crap 80% of the time. When he's good, dear god is he ever good. But when he's bad...it could kill me.
There's that moment that comes in every doomed relationship when you know with stabbing certainty that it will, at some undetermined point in the future, end painfully. It's the "I love you, but..." feeling. It's unique, and it's ominous. It starts as a quiet little pebble of doubt in your belly, and it grows larger and larger as it rolls around collecting all the little things about your lover that you can't stand. Finally, when it gets big enough, the lover has to go, or your guts will burst, Alien-style. There's no other choice.
New York, honey...baby...I love you, but...