For five days Jamaica Queens has been where I lay my head and wake up in the morning. Quickly I realized that many of the preconceived notions that lots of non-New Yorkers have about NY is just not true. As I breathed in the air, the foul smell of garbage on the streets consumed my nostrils. Taxi’s honking their horns, hundreds of people on one street walking by at every second, the sounds of the subway underground, the meat carts on every block that sold everything from gyro’s to cigarettes; it was all so New York. And I was taking in every bit of it.
Being in a new state as large as New York I felt like a foreigner in an unfamiliar country. Knowing I had to learn the complex subway and bus system along with locations of certain places was overwhelming to say the least. My biggest fear was not getting robbed, pulled into a dark ally or even seeing a rat, but instead it was the subway.
On my first day in Queens I set the alarm for 10 in the morning but procrastinated getting out of the
bed until 12:15, all because I did not want to get on the subway. That day was dreary and rainy in the city, which were all the signs of a could be horrible first day in the city. I emailed folks, wrote a new status on Facebook, called people, googled and the whole nine to find out as much information about the subway as I could. I opened the door to my room to go downstairs and searched the refrigerator while the white cat stared at me as if she was asking, ‘Who are you?’ After a failed attempt of finding 10-minute ready food, I headed back upstairs to prepare to get ready for the day. Motivation was what I desperately needed so I had to put on some music that would get me pumped, so I inserted Camron’s Crime Pays into my laptop and got to it!
As I headed out the door, locked the two bottom locks I told God, “You have to be with me and look over me.” After those ten words, for some reason I knew I was good. On Linden Ave I saw the various bus stops and I looked for the Q4, which I knew I needed to get to the Jamaica Center train station. Because I over prepared for my venture into the city, I knew the bus only took coins or the metro card, no dollar bills were allowed. I quickly ran into to CVS for change and asked for a subway map. The clerk told me that didn’t have any and asked, “Where you going?” “Wall Street,” I replied. “Oh just go out here catch the Q4 bus and then take the J train all the way into town and get off on Broad street, “ she said. “Thank you.” I thought to myself that this is one of the preconceived notions that was wrong. So many people say New Yorkers are rude, don’t ask for directions, don’t do this, don’t do that. But here this lady was willingly giving me directions when I hadn’t even asked. Are some New Yorkers rude? Hell yeah. But aren’t some Nashvilleans, Texans and people from every other place in the world?
Of course the bus was packed so I stood in my flip flops holding on to my wet umbrella with one hand and the rail with the other. While riding the bus I carefully looked at all the stores, people, streets and how the buildings were made. If at any point someone thought I was a tourist, it would have to be at this moment. New Yorkers do not look around out the window because they see the same things I was in awe of, every day. After maybe 7 minutes the bus pulled up to Parsons and Archer Ave which is where I exited to get on the train. Once inside the station and underground I went to the machine and purchased my all day unlimited metro pass. I figured if it stopped raining maybe I’d even venture to Brooklyn. Even though I knew that wasn’t happening.
I must admit that swiping the metro card has a silly technique to it that took me 10 attempts before it finally went through. When I stepped onto the subway I looked around and surprisingly I found a seat. Days later I did find out that you may have to stand for about 5 stops before getting a seat during rush hours. Observing the people on the train I eliminated yet another preconceived notion. No one had on those old school pouches that clip around your waste because of the myth that you shouldn’t carry a purse in New York. In fact mostly everyone carried rather large and fashionable purses and women were not clutching them for dear life. No one looked nervous, no guys were standing behind women trying to cop a feel and no one was overly rambunctious. Everyone was in their own world trying to get to their destination. Passing Marcy Ave- Jay Z’s former stumping grounds- and Brooklyn Bridge inspired me to pull out my Reporter’s pad.
Two guys were getting off at their stop and saw that I was writing. “You writing lyrics,” he said? I just smiled and shook my head no because you’re not “supposed” to talk to random New Yorkers. “Well if you writing a book and yo picture gon be on it, let me know. I’ll be looking for that,” he said. We all laughed and he said, “Have a nice day.” “You too,” I said. Yeah I broke the rule and talked to him, what the hell. Ain’t no harm in being polite.
So in one bus and subway ride venture I realized people are just people. Wherever you go there are all types of people. Some rude, some nice, some talkative, some reserved, some smart and some dumb. But just because you’re in New York doesn’t mean someone won’t ask you how you’re doing or tell you to have a nice day.
Four days later and I’m on the hustle and bustle of things just like I was born to be here. I’ve seen some of Queens: Jamaica Ave, Linden Ave, Merrick Blvd, met a Queens dude, caught the train to Brooklyn, rode around Brooklyn, went to Ihop (something I thought only us Southerners do), drove through Times Square, attended Jay Z’s whack ass 40/40 club, which I left after 45 minutes, walked around midtown Manhattan to find another club, saw the clubs Home, Mansion and Guesthouse all on the same strip, met a Brooklyn dude, went to church, applied for jobs on Broadway and started my internship at Vibe magazine. And now I’m sitting on my couch ironically watching Sex in the City and writing about it.
Everything I went through to get to this point in my life was well worth it. God knows exactly what He is doing and why He allows certain things to happen to you. I’m here and making it. I will forever say when you dream big, big things happen. And you know what…
In five day’s I’m in love. So in love with the Big Apple.