culture capsule | New York City

Culture capsule New York CityVisiting New York City with four kids was the direct antithesis to our comfort zone. To be honest, we recoiled inwardly in anticipation of visiting.

Crowds.

Traffic.

Public transportation.

 

Choose any of the above factors and we could give you a few solid reasons why we should skip this city altogether and simply move on to Massachusetts.

However, paradoxically, the very things that repel us also hold a transfixing allure. Why not dip our toes in the foreign waters and immerse ourselves in the unknown? Why not give our kids the chance to see what life looks like in our nation’s largest city? And so we proceed with excited trepidation into the unknown.

Culture capsule New York City
Driving toward the Lion’s Den

TASTING THE BIG APPLE

We descend upon the city and taste The Big Apple like hummingbirds feeding in a field of flowers—flitting furtively from one location to another; Central Park, Times Square, Trump Tower, Rockefeller Plaza, The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal, and Ground Zero.

Culture capsule New York City

Thanks to movies and television, everywhere we look, familiar reflections bounce back at us. Buildings, skylines and even the continual sounds of car horns and sirens reverberate expectations that have been reinforced by modern media.

Culture capsule New York City

FINDING THE PULSE OF NEW YORK

We weave in and out of the crowd like red blood cells pulsing through an intricate network of veins. Trent in the lead, I in the rear and our four kids paired up in between. The more we explore, the less anxious we become. We begin to feel the pulse of the city and take note of her curious complexity.

Our stereotypical expectations are confirmed. Yes, it is busy. Yes, it is crowded. No, I would not want to drive my car through it. Yet just like with other locations, we also find previous assumptions challenged. Are New Yorkers really rude? What about the people who helped us find our way in the subway station? Maybe people just misunderstand what its like to live here. New Yorkers can’t be expected to put on a false face. They’ve been maxed out with sensory overload and then sit/stand/sway next to strangers on their way home from work every day.

CULTURE CAPSULE

After two long days and 10 miles of walking, we leave New York City with wide-eyed wonder at the rhythm and culture that we’ve just been a part of.

During the past 48 hours I believe could have reached out and touched someone who either spoke another language, moved from another country or looked vastly different from myself at any given time. I am attracted to that array. Each subway ride was like a miniature cross-culture capsule containing dense diversity. We leave New York City feeling disappointed that the diversification that we found here is so poorly reflected in small town America.

DIVERSELY DIFFERENT & UNIQUELY UNIFIED

While we may not feel at home in the city, I am thankful we came. The more we travel, the more we learn about what makes our country so diversely different while still remaining uniquely unified. It is that truth that makes even this foreign place feel a little like home.

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
― Tom Wolfe

11 thoughts on “culture capsule | New York City”

  1. Oohhh how I would’ve loved to be with you on this one! (Who am I kidding…I want to be on all your adventures.😊)

    I’ve spent most of my adult life fascinated with NYC, and I still haven’t been there. I purposefully watch movies that are filmed there and push pause to take it all in.
    I’ve also spent hours looking at photos online and studying maps. You went to all the places I would’ve gone to as well.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure! Maybe I’ll get out to the big Apple someday too.

    Blessings!

    1. You are so cute! I loved picturing you watching movies and pushing pause to “take it all in”. You would have loved being here with us. Hopefully someday you can venture into the Big Apple on your own!

  2. This is a great post! We tend to avoid big cities and New York is one that I haven’t really wanted to visit. But my kids would like to see it so I’m sure we’ll end up there someday. Just like Las Vegas I’m sure it will take me way out of my comfort zone. 😊

    1. Yes this was probably similar to your Las Vegas hesitations (although for perhaps different reasons). I continue to be pleased with how much better things often are in person than in our imaginations. It’s good to keep stepping out of our comfort zones!

  3. Timely post! We are hopefully headed to NYC this fall with our three young girls and an exchange student. We are pulling a travel trailer and stopping at other places on the way there and back from Indiana. Where did you leave your camper when you stayed in NYC? We are trying to decide on where to stay and if we should take a train in or drive our truck.

    1. How exciting, that will be a lovely road trip! We left our RV at the Chestnut Lake RV park in Port Republic, NJ. This RV park is part of the Thousand Trails network of RV parks of which we have a membership so we were able to stay free of charge. They have made a lot of improvements to the park. The pool area is very nicely remodeled as is the rec room. The RV sites are pretty nice and level. It was defiantly worth it for us for the price but I am sure there are RV parks closer to NYC. We drove from there to NYC and stayed overnight in a hotel very near the city leaving our car at the hotel and utilizing their shuttle service to the subway and using the train while traveling into the city.

  4. We just moved from Long Island and I can tell you first hand NYCers are so much more pleasant than their counterparts on L.I. I don’t know what it is but it’s noticeable. NYCers are almost always willing to help you if you need it and if you strike up a conversation with the right person you may even find a hidden gem or two.

    We took our kids into the city twice during our 15 month stay on L.I. and they loved every second of the experience (they were 4 & 2 and then 5 & 3). Getting stand up and hold on in the subway car was the highlight of any trip for my daughter. If you ever get the chance to go back for Christmas you really have to check it out. It’s crowded but it’s such a fun and festive time.

    1. I believe you! We were so taken back when we found ourselves lost in the subway underworld and three people much younger than us stopped to help us and then led us to where we needed to go. Yes, standing up while riding the subway was a true highlight for our kids. I am sure the city looks amazing at Christmas time!

  5. I love the way you described New York City! I went a few times about 15 years ago and then again last December and it was exactly like I remembered 😀 Like you said, it’s still just like the movies. I’m glad that you enjoyed it more than you thought you would.

    1. Thank you! It is fun to have a place in our country that feels shared by so many even if it is mostly through media. 🙂 I am really thankful we got to be there in person and I am glad you have too!

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