‘Normal’ is what you make of it

Laundry’s going.

My wife will be grocery shopping.

Our cat Sasha was originally happy to see us, but now she’s off doing whatever it is she’s doing.

We’re home from New York, and although neither of us go back to work until Monday, things will now get back to normal.

My wife and I were lining up for the train at Penn Station this morning when an African-American woman walked behind us on the way to her train, close enough where she probably would have tripped over her my bag if she wasn’t careful.

No big deal, except — assuming I’m right about who she was, and I’m 99.9 percent certain I am — she was probably the only passenger being talked about as a possible Senate or presidential candidate.

Apparently, Stacey Abrams had been on with Stephen Colbert last night.

In one of the last scenes of the play “Network,” Howard Beale — played brilliantly by Bryan Cranston (no shock there) — steps off-stage and into the audience to explain what he had just done.

Part of the staging of the show is that cameras are everywhere showing everything on televisions, so a shot of Beale from behind revealed that in the front row was Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Beale said he looked familiar … like that weatherman he has seen on TV.

Everyone laughed.

It was probably during one of my nighttime gawkfests in Times Square when my wife said she remains astounded by the way I am in New York.

I’ve been circling around an explanation for years, mostly having to do with growing up in a small town upstate where New York was a fantasy land — a view not necessarily shared by everyone I knew, by the way — but I’m 46 years old, and I go to New York at least once a year, twice if we also go to a Yankees game.

But I think I’m closer to coming in for a landing, and it’s this.

I live a pretty ordinary life. Most people do.

And while vacations — whether a couple days in the Dominican Republic, a week in Arizona or five days in New York — are meant to be out of the ordinary, no place is more out of the ordinary than New York City.

And that’s what I find endlessly fascinating and what I enjoy so much.

There are the big things: being down the street from Madison Square Garden, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, seeing Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sara Bareilles and Bryan Cranston on stage in five days, the larger-than-life lights in Times Square.

But there are also the little things, like how the rules are crosswalks are basically that a walk signal means to walk and a don’t-walk signal means “don’t get hit,” and that drivers will honk their horns at people cutting it a little too close.

And then there’s the scaffold/temporary sign-industrial complex. Even the smallest business have signs to hang if the area in front is under construction.

It would have probably eaten me alive if I ever tried to make it permanent, but it’s a big place and a big life, and while I’m there, I get to be a little part of it.

Yet for the people living there, it’s probably neither strange nor fascinating.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is looking to go out on a Wednesday night. Stacey Abrams has somewhere she needs to go. Jackie Mason — who we saw at a diner on a previous trip — needs to eat lunch.

But even more than that, I know that my New York City is the gussied-up, tourist New York. Sure, you see the homeless people, and if the subway is delayed, all that means is catching the ferry to the Statue of Liberty a little bit later.

But for New Yorkers, a delayed subway means getting to work late. Times Square is just an overcrowded tourist trap, and all those people trying to figure out when to cross the street are just in the way.

The people walking across and taking selfies on the Brooklyn Bridge are having a great time; the people stuck in traffic probably aren’t.

Not that people who live in New York City don’t like it. I’m sure they do. But what I think is amazing they probably think is …

… normal.

Here’s the other stuff I wrote about my trip to New York.

Random thoughts on the train ride from Massachusetts.

In New York, you don’t even need a plan to have a full day. Just go.

I’m not cool. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is cool. I’ll always think she is; others may eventually disagree.

If someone could actually be a high-quality psychic and life coach, how much money would he or she make? Plus other happenings on a rainy day.

I think Sara Bareilles would be everyone’s new best friend if they asked.

What is a greater American icon than the Statue of Liberty? What would the American story be without the people who went through Ellis Island?


19 thoughts on “‘Normal’ is what you make of it

  1. On multiple trips we’ve been in towns with an amazing view of a glacier or a beautiful mountain and we say “do you think it gets old for the people who live here?” We’re so in awe of the new places and it’s just their normal, it’s funny to think about! Thanks for linking back 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I’ve never been to New York, but it’s on my travel list. My husband is less convinced; his small-town perspective is one that includes not liking lots of people or crowds. But I’ve been working to appeal to his civil engineering side, especially with the beautiful buildings and bridges. I’d probably be drawn to your point of view, and admire the culture and just the ability to run across people who are important or famous or out of the ordinary.

    And I’m sure you’re right—it’s all “normal” to locals, but I’m sure they recognize how special it is, even if it’s background noise to them. We live in a super beautiful part of Colorado with lots of tourists and travelers who say we’re so lucky; we are, but it’s not on my mind as I drive to work in the morning or head to the too-small grocery store. Thanks for sharing and linking!


    1. Your husband is like my father, who wouldn’t be caught dead in New York to do anything other than go somewhere else!

      Based on the conversation Rosie and I were having in the comments, I actually planned on asking you if living in the Rockies is old hat, whereas anyone who visits (as I did a few times when I had family there) is amazed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, that sounds a little bit like my curmudgeon-in-a-young-person’s-body husband, haha. But we’ll see!

        It’s pretty much exactly like that. It really is beautiful and amazing, but you tend to get used to everything unless you are actively trying to be more conscious of your surroundings. The other day it felt like spring time and I was so excited and buzzing with “wow! I can’t believe I live here!” energy, whereas today it felt like nothing special. Funny how that goes.

        Liked by 1 person

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