No Comment

On one of my last days in New York, I walked past the Brooks Brothers in Columbus Circle and remembered just how much the city had completely kicked my a**.

Because of stores like Brooks Brothers, the collared shirts they contained and the people who shopped there exclusively, I felt left out, inadequate and under-dressed in New York City. But at that moment, I saw the pink shirt next to the reflection of my Old Navy jeans in the glass and thought, “This store can’t hurt me anymore. I’ve finally learned to be myself and not worry about it.”

Then I got to San Francisco and realized that I hadn’t learned to be myself. I learned to be a New Yorker. I was horrified to find that no one ever seems to be impatient, or even in a hurry. While walking home from Yoga class today (Irony alert) I realized the real problem: total lack of self-importance. It’s eerie. There’s not a single person here who realizes that the point of walking down the street is to assert your physical, intellectual and financial superiority over the other people walking down the street. It’s maddening! I’d kill for one disdainful look, or at least someone to acknowledge that she’s impressive. The obliviousness left me feeling empty for most of the day–until I got to the How Weird Street Fair.

“Bollyweird: The Cosmic Dance. Ten blocks of art, performances, colorful costumes, unique vendors. Plus ten stages of electronic music, non-stop fashion shows, healing arts, and a new world record that you can take part in!All ages welcome. Costumes and dancing encouraged.

There were so many hippies. There were absurd costumes. There was dancing in the streets. It was like the Woodstock Remix. It all felt like too much. I busied myself taking photographs and muttering, “I can’t believe this is real.” Then I realized: people were really dancing in the streets-without any sense of self-importance! It was real. It might have been catalyzed by drugs, but it was not a half-bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

I was dancing, wrapping scarfs around my head and yanking up my jeans so everyone could see my stripped socks clashing with my running sneakers. But after a while, reality sunk in. My New York state of mind came back. I looked around the crowd of mellow misfits and it occurred to me, “I might turn 30 in this city.”

But before I could race off to the airport to book a flight home and back to the grind, a three-person congo line hopped past me. “Come on, join!” The leader called to me. “You know you want to! We have no idea where we’re going, and that’s the important part!”


7 thoughts on “No Comment

  1. San Fran and Melbourne, Australia have a lot in common like that. There's a heck of a lot of people here who aren't into their own self-importance. Must've been one of the reasons I enjoyed visiting San Fran so much!

    Great photos. Sounds like it's high time to learn to be a San Franciso-ite 🙂

  2. As one who has lived on both coasts, I will say it's the same sh*t in a different package. Whereas New Yorkers thrive on the aggressive assertion of their own self importance, West Coasters thrive instead on passive aggressive assertion of their own self importance. In New York they ask you “where did you go to school? Where do you live? What do you do?” and from there they can pretty much sum you up. On the West Coast it's “what are you into?” – an unaswerable question – where, no matter what your answer, they will engage in the most passive aggressive series of comments whereby they will manage to say, without saying it directly, that you aren't nearly as athletic/indie/or environmental as you thought. Don't get it twisted – people in San Francisco think they are very very important, they are just too smug to put it out there directly.

  3. What insights here! Of New York: I…remembered just how much the city had completely kicked my a** You never really expressed here the dismay you must have been feeling. It made me mad at New York! Of Brooks Brothers: “This store can't hurt me anymore.” I shuddered and shook my head to think that you had ever felt less than anyone on a New York street.

    That there were so many hippies and a conga line and a lack of self-importance there on the streets of San Francisco is remarkable. I think the little-bitty photos are remarkable too and perfectly suited to the lack of grandiosity you are writing about.

    Timothy's comment is eye-opening too and I'm wondering if the reality isn't somewhere in the middle of your initial perception and his impressions.

    Loved the post.


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