I'm 22 years old and new to New York. I moved here from Los Angeles 53 days ago. During this time, I have fallen truly, madly and deeply in love with the New York City Subway.
Some reasons are shallow, and some are more transcendent.
New Yorkers owe happy hour -- and all weeknight socializing, for that matter -- to the New York City Subway.
At six o'clock on an L.A. Wednesday, everyone runs to their cars and starts driving home. There is no spontaneous "let's grab drinks" or "wanna walk to the bookstore?" People know traffic is a giant monster waiting to devour them, and they want to get a leg up on him as soon as possible.
Even if we did decide to go to a bar in Los Angeles, it'd be at least a 20 minute drive away, because the city is huge and our friends work everywhere in it. Then street parking would be impossible to find. Then the meter wouldn't accept our credit card. Then we'd wait for our friends who were stuck in traffic, and we'd drink too many drinks, and we'd be too tipsy to drive home or anywhere else. But we wouldn't ride in cabs, because we wouldn't want to leave our cars behind.
In New York, though, I don't have to decline your last-minute cocktail offer. I've got nowhere to be after work and no Volkswagen holding me back. This city is compact, it's walkable, and it's our oyster. If we stroll too far while you tell me about your dog, or if we get carried away in the four-dollar wine bar, I know the New York City Subway will be there to catch me and deliver me safely home.
And when I'm on the New York City Subway, everyone will be together. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health.
In Los Angeles, you wake up and get ready for work. Then you walk downstairs alone, get in your car alone, and drive to work alone. Ryan Seacrest might be talking on the radio, but he doesn't count because his voice isn't a real human. Then you walk from the parking lot outside your office to your actual office. Then you walk back to the parking lot alone and drive home alone in miserable traffic, banging the steering wheel and sweating over how many hours of TV time you're losing, all while trapped in a little cube all alone.
On the New York City Subway, there are painters and drawers and singers and dancers. There are mothers and bankers and old men with walking sticks. One time at the Bedford stop, I helped (well, tried to help) a zillion Portuguese bachelorettes find the Waldorf Astoria on a map. When I made my zany hand motions, they exploded into laughter and clapped me on the back.
This other time, I saw a man sketching the funniest 3D sketches of bunnies doing yoga. They looked like da Vinci's sketches of his flying machine, only they were bunnies doing yoga! He finished warrior II after I gave him a tip.
Then, this other time, in an empty station after my "long day" and my "freezing cold walk," two exhausted, shirtless, dog-eyed brothers used a violin and an empty paint bucket to play the most solemn, poignant cover of Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball" that will ever be played anywhere, by anyone.
It was the kind of performance whose vibrating echo gives you chills. The kind that makes you want to cry. The kind that lets you feel connected, because someone feels how you feel, only they feel worse, and you were so selfish to feel that way in the first place so you should smile at them, and they will smile back, and you will be new friends.
All thanks to the New York City Subway.