I'm an alien, I'm an udik girl in New York

Being in New York for two days, and choosing to head home on Saturday night - while I could've spent my weekend in the world's liveliest city - had me contemplating during the three hour train trip back to DC on how uncool I've become . I remember the thing that crossed my mind when the van I rode on was passing through Queensboro Bridge, and I was looking down at the tops of the buildings, Manhattan's modern day castles: what an incredible city it is. Fascinating. Absorbing.

I wonder whether I'm missing something. Maybe I should've been spending more times in New York, or travelling there more frequently. Maybe finally I will be able to adhere to its lifestyle and hence consider myself being part of today's urban, sophisticated female workforce, the likes of "Sex and the City" casts.

New York always gives me the mixed feelings. It often reminds me to Jakarta: the crowds, the noises, the rush, the traffic jams, the lights, the hypes, the glamour. It is not a place you'll refer to as "beautiful". Old and new buildings often cram in one spot. It's eclectic, in both positive and negative ways. I find breathing there a bit difficult at times, despite the Central Park (unless you're walking on Fifth Avenue), and even in residential areas like Forest Hill or Rego Park (where many Indonesians live, hehehe...), probably due to Manhattan's abundant high rises.

On the other hand, like Jakarta, the somewhat irregularity is charming. And the unpredictability is exciting. New York gives you everything you want and offers other things that you haven't even thought before. It reads your mind and plays with your wildest fantasies. Yes, you'll never get bored there.

In DC, things are -- as much opposite to New York as it can be -- rather predictable. By all accounts, DC is a beautiful place. Its delicate mansions, its small parks, its cherry blossoms, its neatness. Even around the ghettos in the South East, the area contributing to placing DC among highest crime rates in the States.

It is also the contrasts that gives DC its unique character. Behind the conservative dresses lie liberal minds (DC has always been a Democrat basis). The home of the second biggest Cathedral in the US is also the place where you'll find rainbow flagged churches. And inspite of the tremendous exposes to diverse cultures and world affairs thanks to the countless foreign missions, DC retains its small-town ambience. How else will you explain The Washington Post's Sunday family columns, containing wedding announcements of Mr. and Mrs. Payne's daughter to Colonel and Mrs. Williams' son?

Such an ambiguity is seemingly inherent in me. Or perhaps deep down I remain an udik girl. Years ago, an edition of "Jakarta Jakarta" magazine's earlier version put an article about Surabaya, labeling it "the big city with kampung mentality". There I was, the girl from Surabaya who was drawn by Jakarta's dynamics. I often hated Jakarta, missing Surabaya the hometown, but would always opt for Jakarta to be my working ground. And, yes, I can be as much kampungan as possible, heheheh...

DC, of course, is not a choice. I was assigned here. Yet it has the similar tranquility to Surabaya's (I know many will not agree with me in using "tranquil" to describe Surabaya, hehehe.. but that's how I feel!). I am familiar with it. It's stamped all over me, at least while I'm here. New York, on the other hand, boosts my spirit, though it's not necessarily comforting. I feel Sting as soon as I walk out of Penn Station, inhaling the not-so-fresh air, polluted by the honking taxis, indulging my eyes with the sight of stylish New Yorkers with their colorful trenches and stiletto boots, ready to grasp whatever Big Apple provides (practically everything). It's relieving, though, to know that when I have enough with it, it will only take three hours to be back home, where cars still patiently wait when you're crossing the street and strangers hold the door for you as you step in.

2 comments:

mita said...

sist, cherry blossom-nya kapan ya? tempting sekali .. hehehe

nananias said...

lha kalo saya malas ama crowd da. makin susah untuk jadi outstanding :D