This I Believe

Tina - Saint Petersburg, Florida
Entered on March 26, 2007

Times Square. People, people, people. Who’s a tourist? Who belongs? Do people think I belong? Do my nice pants throw them off? Maybe my oh-so-cool leather messenger bag makes me look like I’m just on my way to the office. I keep my awe in check, not an easy task. Don’t look up at the buildings, jaw hanging, hand reaching out for something to steady yourself from the dizzyng site. I set my eyes like a New Yorker, straight ahead, set on the task of moving ahead at a quick, steady pace. I maneuver the obstacles effortlessly, the chicken kabob man that diligently wears his latex gloves as he wipes down the counters of his stall with the same rag that sops up the raw chicken juices. Don’t dare check out the t-shirt man, with his variety of tourist uniforms and accessories. You know you want that NYC hat we’ll just wait until we find someone that’s off the beaten track so no one will see. And definitely steer clear of the tall African men who wheel their wares in carefully covered boxes, mumbling, “Gucci purse, Gucci purse, Gucci purse.” It is you, the tourist that they are here for. A true New Yorker would shudder their Donna Karan covered shoulders at the thought of such primitive shopping.

About the same time that the blisters on my feet became too painful to ignore, you know, the blisters caused by the shoes that perfectly matched my nice pants (secretly referred to as my “New York Pants”), that perfectly matched my oh-so-cool leather messenger bag, I began to let go of my fantasy. I realized how much I was missing by looking straight ahead, on the task of moving ahead. I was on vacation, my only task was to gawk in wonder, jaw hanging.

Upon this epiphany, or rather the moment when I realized that I was being stupid, I really began to see this beautiful city. The first thing, in Times Square, unless you’re selling chicken kabobs, souvenirs or “Gucci purse, Gucci purse, Gucci purse”, you’re a tourist. I am sure that there is an unwritten rule that true New Yorkers don’t go to Times Square unless they’re going to a show. In that case, I strongly believe that there are secret tunnels that can only be used by city residents. Well, O.K. maybe not, but everywhee I looked I saw people with instant cameras out in full view, unabashedly clicking away at tall buildings and oversized billboards. Many branded with the mark of tourist by the “I Heart New York” t-shirt or the NYPD baseball cap, some simply by the fact that they were traveling in a group of fifteen or more. Who would notice if there was just one more? So I pulled out my camera from the depths of my messenger bag and began the impossible task of capturing New York.