This past weekend my dad was in town. As a native New Yorker the city is a familiar part of his past and so visits here are more nostalgic than touristy (which I greatly appreciate). One of my favorite things about this city is having people come to visit as it allows you an opportunity to see places you wouldn't normally see, and to show these people what it is about this city that makes you want to be here. However I think that we as New Yorkers often forget just how freakin weird this city can be as well.
As my dad and I strolled through Central Park we were discussing the changing of the seasons and the beauty of the fall as a homeless man all in white began screaming 'I love you' and giggling with gusto. It was unexpected but one of those moments that reminds you that in this fabulous city you really never know what to expect. We both began to recall odd things we'd each witnessed in our various time here, and through laughs and horror agreed that most of our experiences are things that would only happen in New York. The following are a few of the experiences I've had that really stand out above the rest. Enjoy.
I'd been living in the city for a month or so at this point. The weather was starting to get cool with the fall and as a native Arizonan I was ill supplied when it came to winter gear. A friend had suggested that I check out the Goodwill on the Upper East Side (a very affluent neighborhood, meaning that their hand-me-downs would all be designer label and in my price range). So one Saturday morning I made my way to that part of town to find the fancy Goodwill and hopefully get a new coat. Right outside of the train station was a Starbucks and given that I bleed coffee I decided to grab a beverage to kick off my shopping spree.
Barista: What's ya name sweetheart
Barista: *stares blankly*
Me: It's spelt like a song....
Barista: Ya... I'm gonna put Mel
One caffeinated beverage later and I started heading towards the store. I was feeling really good. I was out and about shopping in the city, the weather was gorgeous. This was going to be a nice day. About 50 paces ahead of me I saw a homeless man sitting on the ground. He was older and had clearly been on the streets for a while, but what was interesting to me was his little lump on the very top of his head. From a distance it looked as though he had gathered what hair he had left into a very small bun on the top of his head. At the time top knots and man buns were extremely trendy so I found it a little humorous that this older homeless man was so on trend. It wasn't until I got closer that I realized that this was not hair, not even close.
His skin was caked with dirt, I mean truly caked. It was difficult to even see his facial features as I passed by from the amount of dirt and soot covering this poor man. And out of that dirt, on the very top of his head, was a mushroom. An actual, real, three inch tall fucking mushroom. I stared in horror, aware that I was being incredibly rude, but unable to move as I reconciled what I was seeing in front of me. Was I making this up? Was this a trick of the light?
I have no idea if what I saw is even physically possible, but there is no doubt in mind that what I saw was indeed a mushroom. As recognition set in nausea took over... I ran to the other side of the street with my mouth over my hand. I don't usually have a queasy stomach when it comes to seeing things. However that was to this day one of the most upsetting and nasty things I have ever seen. I hope that man finds a long bath, and a good harvest.
The Candle Aisle
I love shopping, absolutely love it. I don't even care if I buy anything or not. I enjoy being out, seeing each seasons trends and styles, planning for my future wardrobe and home once I make my millions (any publishers reading this, hit me up).
About two years ago I had decided to spend my morning at one of the most dangerous stores of all, Marshall's Home Goods. I was making my way to the best aisle in the whole store, the candle aisle. The magical aisle where you can choose from seemingly thousands of candles of all colors and scents to make your house smell like heaven at a discount.
As I turned my cart I saw a woman and her son crouching down. They were face to face, and as a fairly kid experienced person my first thought was that they were having a time out moment. Perhaps he had been acting out of turn, or grabbed something he shouldn't have and they were simply discussing the rules. Not wanting to bring attention I tried to keep my eyes adverted as I began perusing the candle options before me. However a second glance at the pair made me quickly realize that this situation was anything but normal...
The child in question was at least 5 years old and was squatting with his pants pulled down around his ankles... His mother had laid out a few pieces of newspaper under neath him like a dogs pee pad... And right in the middle of my beloved candle aisle this kid was taking a shit. Did they pick the candle aisle because of the smell? Were they aware that there was a public restroom around the corner? Who were these monsters destroying my candle day?! I couldn't believe it, I didn't want to believe it. I can't imagine what culture would encourage people to do their daily business in the middle of a department store but this woman and her child clearly had no qualms about where they were or what they were doing.
I was frozen, unable to pass them as they were occupying much of the aisle, and unable to retreat as there were people now behind me. The literal shit was about to hit the proverbial fan and I needed to get the hell out of there. I began wildly backing up in a rush of 'excuse me!!!' but not before I saw the mother yank up her sons pants (without wiping), ball up the used newspaper, and place it in a nearby empty cart.
As I raced over to the other side of the store I passed an employee. "Excuse me, I'm so sorry, but a woman just let her son poop in the store and left it wrapped in news paper in the candle aisle.... I thought you should know." She stared at me in disbelief, I think she thought I might be joking.
I left the store that day a little older than when I had walked in. To this day when I go to that Marshall's I have a PTSD response of momentary panic making sure that no one is pooping on the floor. Clean up on aisle two...
A few weeks ago I was on the M train headed home. For most of us being on the train means headphones in and head down. There is a mirrored grimace on peoples faces as we shake back and forth with the train just praying that there are no unexpected delays. It's the only way to deal with it really, you go into your own little world while commuting that blocks out the fact that you're being touched by at least 6 people at a time and every surface you touch is essentially alive with bacteria.
On this particular day I was able to snag a seat and a girl around my age sat down next to me. As she settled in she pulled out a moleskin journal and began to write. She had various drawings, writings, and items that she had picked up over time included in the pages. This was more than a journal, it was a collection of moments and memories. Her face was serious, her shoulders hunched, as she wrote about her days experiences.
We had just crossed over the Williamsburg bridge and were making our first stop in Brooklyn. People were collecting their various belongings and preparing to disembark as this is a very popular stop. An older woman was standing a few spaces away and as the doors open she walked up to the girl next to me, handed her a note, and exited the train. All those around looked at the note with curiosity. "Don't forget to smile, you're beautiful!" The girls face lit up and she turned to the window to see if she could spot the woman who had shared with her this kindness. They made eye contact as the doors closed and the train began to pull away. Both of these women waved and smiled, complete strangers, but now forever connected.
The girl took her note and added it into her notebook, surrounding it with hearts and stars and writing down this wonderful moment that had just happened. It was something to behold.
From people screaming on trains, to picking up ripped weaves on the street, to bumping into celebrities while getting coffee you never know how your day is going to go in this city. However with all of the chaos and crazy there is an equal amount of energy and beauty. New York has a pulse that invites all to come and participate. I've seen some of the most bizarre things of my life here, and also witnessed some of the most beautiful moments you could imagine.
I look forward to witnessing more of those moments that are only in New York. <3