I remember having a bit of culture shock when I moved from California to New York for college. Everything around me felt new, and at the same time I suddenly saw myself through other people’s eyes. In our recent move from Brooklyn to Pittsburgh there’s been some of that, too. (For one, I must talk fast, because here I’ve found myself jumping into breaks in the conversation too soon and accidentally interrupting.) Of course being stuck in the house most days with babies, my perspective this time is a bit limited. Still, here are a few differences I’ve noticed so far:
1. Here people just ring your doorbell to say hello. The landlord, friends, neighbors, acquaintances. They drop by. In New York even your best friend wouldn’t ring your bell unannounced. You’d have to schedule with them a week in advance. If anyone was coming to your house (with plenty of notice) you’d have time to clean the place up and put on a good show. Of course, when people drop by they see the real you, in your pajamas at noon, dust bunnies all over the rug, unwashed bibs all over the table.
2. Not everyone looks totally put together all the time. Maybe this goes with the just-ring-the-bell mentality. It seems acceptable to wear whatever beat-up tshirt you happen to be wearing. That was different in New York.
2. People acknowledge and greet each other when they pass on the street, smiling or saying hello. In Brooklyn, skeezy men say hello if you’re youngish and female, everyone else respectfully avoids eye contact.
3. It’s very quiet at night. Very quiet. If I went outside I bet I could see stars. Actually, hold on a minute…Yes. I just went outside (that fast) and saw stars. Actually first I saw the moon, which is very full and bright, brighter than the streetlights. The sky is deep night blue, not the maroonish color it is in New York. There was nobody outside, just dark, and the night-lit houses.
Tonight at dinner D and I agreed that we feel a fondness for Brooklyn, though we don’t miss it.