Day 18: Dear New York City, 11 Things You May Not Know About The Rest of America; An Open Letter
Dear New York,
I ❤ you and wish I had a t-shirt to express my love with thick black text and a big red heart. Really, we all love you. I say this with love. Foreign tourists love you; other Americans love you. Ryan Adams loves you; and everyone loves Ryan Adams, who is no relation, but his wife is an O’manda (other Amanda) but her last name isn’t Adams. She was Rapunzel. I’m totally off track, but this is what makes me good at play-along Jeopardy . . .
OK, with that out of our systems; I spent three days with you, New York, and barely accomplished anything because you offer far too much to do. You are the original gateway to the American life. You are the financial center of our nation. Let’s face it, NY, you’re the shit and you know it. Ah, but New York, I have to tell you and your 8.3 million amazing people, you’re not “it.” While you certainly express a large part of American culture, you don’t own it. You’re not “all” of America, you’re just 2.5% of it.
The other 97.5% of us know a lot more about you than you know about us. I mean, you have more on screen connections than Kevin Bacon. We’ve seen your streets and skyline on television and in film so often that your city is almost as familiar to us as our own towns. Seriously, I’ve been to San Fransisco, LA, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Diego, and many smaller cities, and no one has your influence. Because so much of the media is created and controlled within your metropolis, often people not even in NYC perceive what’s going on “outside” of New York through a NYC lens. I want to take this opportunity to set aside the lens, and share a little bit about the rest of America, and I welcome all international people to listen as well in case you’re seeing us like New Yorkers.
- There are no zombies in Atlanta. I checked when I when I visited in May. I looked high and low for zombies and couldn’t even find a plastic one to take home for my husband. Also a bunch of the Walking Dead humans are actually British (shh don’t tell anyone I told you) and lots of people who live in big cities in the south don’t have any accent at all! It’s true, I know some of them.
- Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, and the Dakota twins are actually distinctly different places. Some of us have mountains, some of us have democrats, and some of us have forests. We’re really quite diverse.
- Most of us don’t put our fetuses on waiting lists for preschools. Some of us use Head Start. We kind of think the preschool waiting lists are a bit weird, but we live beyond your food chain and don’t really understand how your child’s preschool choice will ruin the rest of his life. Do they feed kids to the zoo animals if they don’t go to the right school?
- Not everyone in Colorado skis. I was raised here and have never stepped foot into a ski boot. Nor are we all cowboys; my husband has never so much as sat on a horse that wasn’t made out of plastic and took pennies.
- Most of the rest of us cannot afford $22 for an SAT tutor for their kids. Most American’s make less than $40,000/year. Really.
- People in Texas are really polite. I was surprised because I’m from Colorado and we’re not supposed to like the “invasive species” but I really liked everyone I met in Texas.
- We don’t have subways (unless you mean the sandwich franchiser), but many of us have basements where we keep our junk. We have a lot of junk.
- We don’t all belong to the Tea Party, in fact many of us are just as afraid of it as you are but not everyone around us believes the same things so we have to be nice to each other. It’s really not you versus the rest of us.
- We all have universities. You’re surprised aren’t you? I know, right, universities that aren’t Ivy League! They’re actually kind of OK, and it’s not the end of the world to attend one. Also . . . it kind of offends us when you put in print that it seems like the end of the world to come to where we have lesser schools because most of us who went to college went to those colleges. You’re kind of treading on Marie Antoinette/Imelda Marcos ground with that one.
- A lot of us are really jealous of your food opportunities. We have a lot of Chili’s, Applebee’s, and Olive Gardens, and you definitely have us beat when it comes to food options. However, I’ve seen the size of some of your kitchens, so I suppose it’s more necessity than luxury, but still color me green with envy!
- South Dakota (where I was born) has an estimated population of 775,933 people and they all live in 77,353 sq mi, whereas your 12.3 million people live in 486.5 sq mi. In just one square mile you have 25,283 people, which is more people than all but the three most populous towns in South Dakota (their largest town has 153,888 residents, nearly 20% of the population of the entire state). This also means you have more than 15 times the population of the state of South Dakota, but the population density of South Dakota is 1 person for every 10 square miles. This is why your rent is so expensive and your homes are so much smaller than ours, and why your parking spots cost more than some of our houses. This is also why most of us know how to drive.
I realize that there are New Yorkers who work at McDonald’s and/or use Headstart for their kids, but I don’t know if Mc’Yorkers read The New Yorker. I think our failure to communicate stems from the fact that we don’t really hear from New Yorkers who don’t work in publishing, television, Broadway, radio, or some other entertainment industry. I mean, the cab drivers who aren’t
Alex Rieger Judd Hirsch, cops who aren’t Richard Belzer, and waitresses who are not Marissa Tomei aren’t likely to run into us on the ski slopes, and not just because we’re not there either.
So, my Dear New York, I invite those of you who do not work for literary agencies, television stations, or other media outlets, and those of you who have not yourselves attended ivy league schools, who send your children to (gasp) public schools (we love how you call them PS xyz) and who cannot afford to hire a dog walker (I’d love to hear from a dog walker) please post a comment and tell me about your New York because me thinks you’re not living like Monica and Rachel or the people who cut in line at Disney World, but I’d love it if we could all be Friends.