Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Taking It Slow

Lately, I've found myself missing New York.  I miss my friends and neighbors, I miss my old co-workers, and I miss simple things like the park and our favorite restaurants.  But even though I find myself missing it, I am still enjoying life here in D.C.  The neighborhood is lovely, the people are interesting and fun to be around and there is SO MUCH to do and enjoy (and LOTS of it free, something you don't regularly find in NYC). 

But there is one thing I am finding it difficult to adjust to, and that is...the slow down. 

The pace of life in New York is frenetic, at best.  Nothing is ever slow and people are always moving so fast that you don't stop to realize that just about every other American city outside of New York is a bit less...well, rushed. 

For example, I was flabbergasted the first time I went to Starbucks in Foggy Bottom and the cashier actually waited for me to put the change in my purse and step aside before waiting on the person in line behind me. In New York, I could barely get the change in my hand before I heard, "NEXT!" being shouted over my shoulder as the patron reached across me to pay for their order.  It was something that disturbed me when I first moved there 10 years ago, and now I find it odd and discomforting that it's not there...

Or walking down the sidewalk...I once read a study that found New Yorkers walked at an average pace of 3.4 mph, which is apparently the 8th fastest walking city in the world.  I don't know how that compares to other cities within the United States, but I can tell you walkers in D.C. are pretty slow in comparison.  Instead of whizzing past people (and having people whiz past me in return) I find myself slowing the pace a bit.  I'm not weaving in and out of pedestrian traffic and bumping shoulders anymore.  I'm no long running down the escalator or jay-walking through crosswalks.  And you know what?  It's quite refreshing. 

There is always talk in the Foreign Service about culture shock when moving abroad, and reverse-culture shock when returning home from an overseas post, but is there such a thing as domestic culture shock?  Are there others besides me who find certain things/cultures/people/traditions (good or bad) missing from one American city to the next?  Because if I could define what I am experiencing right now, that would be it. 

One month ago I couldn't fathom a commute in 30 minutes or less, and now I have it everyday.  I couldn't imagine an apartment with luxuries like a pool and 7 closets, and yet here they are.  Or affordable groceries or living among people who were 

Back in New York a typical weekday afternoon consisted of me rushing out of work at 6pm, speed walking down Madison Avenue and cramming myself into the train for my long commute home, arriving at my doorstep at nearly 7pm, which thankfully left me just enough time to kiss E, bathe him, give him a bottle and put him to bed.  I was missing so much time with my family and it just all seemed so...normal.

But nowadays, I leave work  and come home in time to play with E, chat with S, walk the dog, go for a quick run, bathe E, read him bedtime stories, and help S cook dinner.  My commute home takes 25 minutes and the trains are hardly ever crowded.

The new pace is revitalizing. As much as I am missing New York, I am loving D.C  And while I am still adjusting to this new found stride, I am liking it more and more everyday.  Because who doesn't love to slow down once in a while? 

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