i've discovered that there are a number of things that have totally changed my life recently. some for the better, some for the worse. some are directly related to moving to manhattan, others not so much. a post about all of them would be overwhelming and ridiculous, so i'll take it in pieces.
first up: something that frequently smells of urine, crawls with rats, and inspires the use of earplugs, but is incredibly reliable and definitely the "green" option. give up? that's right, i'm talking about the subway, baby.
ah, the subway. something i was incredibly excited about even before we moved to nyc. no car? no problem! i’d been to many cities that have subways (including living in chicago and london), and knew i would love it. and to cut to the punchline: i do! i absolutely love it, although sometimes it annoys me (just like any true relationship, right?) so here’s why:
i adore not having a car. i hate driving -- and not paying for gas/insurance/maintenance is an added bonus. having to carry home all your groceries makes you think twice about what you buy, and also forces you to take frequent small trips (making your food more often fresh!) on the other hand, i realized recently that i actually used my car as a sort of purgatory for questionable belongings – namely my white coat. it worked as a great, accessible storage locker for germy nastiness that didn't belong in the house.
i have regained my voracious appetite for reading. sitting on the train headed for work (~20min) or to run errands has given me lots of undivided attention to devote to one of my favorite (but recently lost) hobbies: pleasure reading! i never made time for it in med school or college. having the time on the train has been life-changing, as my desire to read spills over into my evenings and late nights at home, too.
i sweat off (and replenish) about 10% of my body weight daily. i don't necessarily love this. waiting in the subway station in new york in july is like going to a sauna -- except you’re wearing clothes and weren’t interested in sweating in the first place. henry carries a hand towel with him. i just use the most miserable facial expression i can muster. we've both raided our local duane reade for $1 gatorade. and, honestly, we often don't escape a day without two showers.
my exercise tolerance? well, it exists now! the new york subway in particular is a labyrinth of stairs, corridors, and awkward paths. very few escalators here. just to get to the subway station, i often walk many city blocks. the first week that we lived here, henry and i thought stairs were going to be the death of us. now, we take them two at a time. it’s not always fun, but it’s manageable. and hey - maybe it'll inspire me to truly get in shape! i've already bought a bike.
don’t get me wrong, the subway is not the greatest thing ever invented. i’ve lost count of the rats i’ve spotted on the tracks. people can be jerks about letting you on/off trains and often, even if you make it onto the train, you don’t get a seat. there are mobs of tourists who haven’t a clue where they’re going (and on random occasions, they even ask you to take their picture on the subway. what?!). and then there are those times when you just missed a train or trains are running slow/aren’t running for whatever reason. even so, there are a million more things not mentioned here that i love about it.
it’s far from perfect, but for me, it’s just the right thing. and i love it.