‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco’


How traveling makes you appreciate what you have at home. Whereas I thought New York and its amazing energy would make my general fatigue vanish in an instant, the distance I stumbled upon every day kept surprising me. Pace, rush, smartphones, lack of eye contact; a place where walking through the red light is something you’re entitled to because of the collective understanding that everyone needs to be somewhere more important. Or needed to be. Five minutes ago 

So while my friend wondered why I hadn’t fallen in love with the city upon arrival, I realized the combination of jet lag, heat stroke and the ever-reoccurring self-esteem issues may not have been the best allies when visiting the city. Then as temperatures rose up to as high as 40°C/104°F in the middle of the week -turning the Big Apple more into what seemed like a Big Sauna each day-, I noticed I longed for warmheartedness in the streets, interaction with strangers, hills, naked people. Dogs even.

Still, random kindness could definitely be found in odd places in New York. Like Steve, the cab driver that drove me far into Brooklyn, only to be left empty-handed as I had turned out to have forgotten my wallet. Nonetheless, he asked me to keep the 4 dollars I did have for the subway, as he didn’t want me to walk all the way back to Williamsburg.

[A few days later] he called to say he had picked up to twenty dollar cab-fare I had left for him at my friend’s place in Brooklyn. And to thank me, because he hadn’t been quite sure at first if I would really come through as “people don’t help each other, don’t take care of each other anymore”. According to him, it was representative for the US. I told him I wasn’t so sure 

I’m happily back ‘home’. Granted, San Francisco has a simply astonishing number of homeless people that, especially because they’re found mostly in the financial district, offer a constant reminder of how unfair life can be and how it tends to develop itself so differently for people living in the same geographical area. But during the last two weeks, I was nodded at, smiled at and verbally greeted continuously by strangers, complimented three times for my pink sneakers and encouraged numerous times to keep on singing.

It’s small stuff yet so undeniably boosts the general level of happiness. A friend today wrote: ‘I LOVE how strangers smile and nod on the street in this city . We are lucky!!’

We are.
“One day if I do go to heaven…I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.” ~ Herb Caen


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