Last night I ran around to every supermarket in the neighborhood (there are no groceries) looking for Cortland apples. I skidded reluctantly into the expensive one at 8:29pm.
“You just made it,” the guy at the door said. “We close at 8:30.”
“I just need a minute to grab some Cortland apples,” I explained. “Nobody else has them.”
“That’s because they’re out of season,” the guy explained. “You can only get them for a couple of months in the fall.”
I decided not to get all Magic-Schoolbus-Phoebe on him, but in my old city, you can buy Cortland apples all year round! (And past 8:30pm too. Heck, you can buy anything, even shoes, at midnight if you want. That was a shoe store, right? Right?)
Every now and again I run up against a comparison between life in New York and life out here in Mediumcity, USA. New York doesn’t always come in ahead. Sometimes it’s behind. Sometimes it’s a tie. Sometimes you just can’t tell.
Take the housing arrangements, for example. I’ve got my own apartment, which means if I ever decide to take up yoga I can twist myself into knots while loudly intoning “Ohm!” to zen music in the living room without disturbing anyone or eliciting any comments. I can sing along while I do the dishes and nobody bugs me for an encore. I can pack the freezer to the brim with pre-made lunches and dinners, and the milk in the fridge is always mine.
But then again, when I feel in the mood to beat a real person at Settlers (instead of some German teenagers online), I need to go hunt people down via sms. And then I realize that I’m already in my pajamas and too comfortable to actually move, and the same probably applies to everyone else. So I stay put and have another go at those poor Germans.
In New York I’d just have to stick my head out of the hall closet where I’d be living and invite whoever is inhabiting the bathtub and the couch to join me in colonizing the island of Catan. They might have trouble hearing me over the zen music piping through their earbuds, but not over their timid, subsonic, don’t-mean-to-disturb-anyone “ohms.
Earlier this winter I conducted an empirical analysis to ascertain at what optimal temperature I should leave my apartment during the day. In New York, where the huge buildings generate enough internal heat to conduct bikram yoga in every apartment, even when you turn your thermostat down to frigid, there are only two temperature settings: window open and window closed. The great joy of filling a spreadsheet, best-fitting an equation to a scatterplot, and generating pretty graphs would have been lost to me. Then again, I wouldn’t be paying for heat. You gain some you lose some.
…and some things are the same everywhere. Like the gospel meet that goes on in the apartment over my head every 4th Sunday, complete with what sounds like 30 women and one pastor singing hymns between inspiring mini-sermons. That, I’m sure, would wind up above me anywhere.