Filed under: Experience
ensconced in a blunt, jet-lagged haze I wound my way through Manhattan’s Central Park to the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd. , where I queued for five hours to sit opposite performance artist Marina Abramović. And stare at her.
In total, 1500 New Yorkers have queued – most of them from 4am – for this peculiar experience. Stacks of people cried, by the way. It was a big, beautiful experience to be in the room.
But this is the thing: in spite of all the mind-boggling options, Manhattanites mostly derive pleasure from brazenly not attending to them.
There are emu eggs out there to buy, but the best stories happen over a pastrami sandwich in a daggy diner. Or on the subway. Or on your stoop. In essence, there’s a focused appreciation for the minutiae of life, for the real moments that happen between people. Options are narrowed (mostly because you have to, to survive the onslaught of choice) and intimate neighbourhoods form (mostly because everyone lives on top of each other, not spread out over suburbs).This intimacy plays out in the press daily. Big news stories can be happening out there. But the most popular New York Times story of the day will be a 3000-word treatise on the dude who changes the light bulbs at Grand Central – what he eats for breakfast, how he spends weekends. In today’s paper there’s a feature story on two misfits who play ping-pong together. No exciting news angle. Just a quaint friendship dissected over 747 words.
But back to the queuing. Manhattanites are notorious for loving a queue. There are 18,696 eateries across the island, but locals queued for hours at the infamous Magnolia Bakery in West Village when it first opened. In the snow. For a damn cupcake. The queue for Shakespeare in the Park tickets each summer have become their own little subculture. People sit in a line all day, making friends and sharing their picnic with strangers, even though there are countless ways you can see live theatre in this city.
Sitting in the staring queue this week I realized this is how New York makes life better. Why do New Yorkers queue when there are countless other options to be experienced? Because queuing is about being a part of a something. Which is a reminder to us all that beyond the frenzy and excitement of life, mostly we all yearn for realness and intimacy and simplicity.
We all yearn to belong. I tend to find this comforting and exhilarating all at once.
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