November 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
The first time I arrived on a street corner in New York City, I was uncomfortably overwhelmed by the mass of people walking straight towards me, shoving, sidestepping and sometimes, halting mid-step so that the dozen people following close on the heels had to suddenly snap to the side in order to avoid collision. The sheer quantity of people was shocking. I swore I could never live in a place inhabited by so many people determined to follow their own path, regardless of how many people had to get pushed out of the way on the sidewalk. Sitting in the back of a taxi was a whole other story and nerve-wracking ordeal as every time we made a turn, I was terrified we would crash into the car beside us. Nevertheless, I came back to the city numerous times as an escape from what we politely call “the orange bubble,” which is the Princeton campus. Gradually, I have learned to navigate, to shove, and to walk with a purpose, and oftentimes find myself, completely unnecessarily, enacting the same techniques in other cities.
We spent a couple of days in the city last week and somehow managed to avoid the more centralized areas for much of the time. Staying in Morningside Heights, just north of Columbia, we took the subway; we ate cupcakes and drank carafes of sangria in the West Village; we sat by the docks and watched the sun set over New Jersey. In many ways, the city is different every time I come back. It’s only ever for a day or two at a time, so it’s only ever a glimpse, a quick breath before going back to the grind. Far from being terrifying now, it’s comforting, reassuring, that so many people exist in the world and they’re all doing their own thing. Which is nice to keep reminding yourself of when everyone at school seems to be heading down the exact same path.
Of course there are exceptions. Like the guy in the Columbia bar who told me to start pulling all my university connections in D.C. now and sarcastically wished me luck when I said I wanted to do cultural journalism as opposed to political journalism. Or the guy at the same bar who told my friend to abandon aerospace engineering because the money (equivalent to happiness) was in consulting and investment banking. But, well, if you stick to walking down the street and observing people, without actually talking to them, the sentiment that everyone is doing their own thing is there.
Which is, not really the point. I would never advocate not talking to people, just because certain individuals can be incredibly shortsighted. I guess part of the thing about talking to strangers is running the risk of being insulted and angered. But, we ranted about them on the way home that night and now, a few days later on campus, we’re back to doing our own thing.
So on that note, I made these little custards quite awhile ago. They’re creamy, like a light cheesecake. A red wine reduction poured over the top takes them from grown-up to sophisticated. They’re great if you just can’t decide between the dessert and cheese course. And the wine, well a little extra wine never hurt anyone. Cheers to being 21! And finally being able to buy alcohol for my own baking!