I know I’m pushing it… using the “we” in reference to myself inside the group called “New Yorkers.” I’m presuming a lot at this point, fresh off the Midwest-is-best plane and barely two months new in this metropolis. But, if you would, just let me for this one post.
I think I’m starting to understand why there are fewer apartment parties and more occasional, casual gatherings.
New Yorkers (natives and transplants) talk about plans in extremely vague and non-committal terms. Inevitably, every New Yorker has had a “really rough week” and it’s not just a line. It’s legitimate. This is a crazy place and the public transportation gives you plenty of time to ruminate over all the week’s awry events. In addition to all the people involved in your personal and work life, the sheer number of faces you encounter in any given day pushes anyone (no matter how social or strong) into survival mode.
How do I keep my head above water?
Never mind the gallery showings and premieres and benefit galas, how do I stay alive without going crazy? It’s true everywhere, but it feels truer here in New York, where the options are like a million menus of different languages shoved under your chin while a million different people wait for you to make your decision.
Before I moved here, I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller on living for the city – intentionally loving and pouring into the urban space because it is an open door in a way other places are not. A native Midwesterner and natural potluck lover, intentionally loving a city makes sense. Hosting and greeting neighbors and being busy makes sense.
But, this is overload.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just saying I think I understand why we want to hideaway. I get why hosting is hard. I am tempted to say the same “it’s been a rough week” to anyone who asks me to hang out this weekend. I am tempted to slide into vague, non-committal assurances when plans come up. I am tempted to be selfish because it feels more like preservation.
So, now I’ll believe even this temptation is not too much. There is room and space and mental energy to host and love and pour out intentional service into a city that sometimes tries to sap my strength. I’ll pray my heart believes what I know is true when I want to hide away.