SWARTZ: A more concrete idea of spring break

Matilda Swartz

My spring break was spent quietly and comfortably at home, not in Mexico or Rio or any other destination where the indigenous folk can naturally roll their “Rs.” This was just fine by me, due to a personal, highly irrational, yet unrelenting, phobia of air travel. I prefer transportation of the more grounded kind, which is all one needs to get from my New Jersey home to the most glorious place on Earth: New York City.

No, I’ve never lived there and, yes, I almost went to school there. Despite my own extraneous details, there is something more magical about that metaphorical Apple than any Epcot or beachside cabana could ever aspire to.

The magic is more of an enigmatic lure. Because there will always be an inexplicable mystery to how in one city, a pizza costs as much as new footwear, yet a walk through the most extensive, picturesque (in any season) park is f-r-e-e.

Step out of any building or boutique and the visitor cannot help but be filled with the intoxicating air that’s 40 percent street vendor, 15 percent sewage, 10 percent horse carriages, 20 percent public transportation and the rest is anybody’s guess. It is just like the recipe which consists of every vegetable, spice and starch you detest, yet when mixed together the final product tastes better than your favorite Girl Scout cookie. We don’t really know why, it just works.

Then there’s the constant motion. Even when the traffic down 7th seems to be stagnant, there is still a rush. One will never cease to be in the midst of a massive exodus of people walking uptown, downtown, east or west, without a care to if they just elbowed you or not.

On any day of the week a protest parade will stampede your presence because everybody in New York has a cause and they want YOU to know about it.

The whirlwind of movement continues even when standing still; give it a second and the earth (or subway) will literally move under your feet.

This subterranean fraction of the city, organized by letters A-Z and numbers 1-7, provides a controlled chaos of its own. It’s difficult not to feel alive when you’re forced to find free ground on the standing room-only Lexington Ave. 6 during morning rush hour, one hand clutching the steel pole above you, the other balancing your caffeine.

At any point in the metropolis, you simultaneously undergo a sense of retroactive time warp while still feeling like they are in the most undeniably modern piece of the world. Strolling down Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village you stumble into shops that refuse to succumb to the standards of modern music and sell strictly vinyl.

Yet a couple blocks down the same street a swarm of “Sex and The City” die-hards will be lined up to step foot into Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite Magnolia Bakery. At 30 Rockefeller Plaza you can get day-of standby tickets for tonight’s taping of the one week-old “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” or two streets over get day-of student rush tickets for a showing of the 59 years young “Guys and Dolls.” Over on 5th Avenue Tiffany & Co. still stands as prestigious and classy as it did that morning Holly Golightly gawked outside with her croissant and coffee, except I doubt the monstrous, transparent Apple edifice was next door back then.

Scents, smells and attractions aside, New York boasts its own caliber of inhabitants. The city-dwellers too often get a bad rap for their lack of volume control, their tendencies to trample a few toes on their way to work or their thick skin, but who can blame them?

In a sprawling locale as populated and animated as this, extravagance and edge are necessary. This does not make them evil, egotistical, unapproachable maniacs; in fact the very opposite. It boggles my mind why it is an all too common occurrence to strike up conversation with a stranger in a close-quartered deli, yet the same occurrence is a virtual dream, an impossibility, in our very own Spit.

Perhaps you can see the appeal. If not, I understand. New York is not everybody’s cup of liquid morning jolt. I’m sure that the Cabos and Rios of the world have their own aromas, peoples, and signature sands. New York is not the vast sunny expanse of tropical sun-kissed locals where so many spring-breakers vacation. It is a tight squeeze where the sunrays fight to shine down on any piece of pavement between skyscrapers and the locals are rough around the edges. It meets my standards, and I don’t even need to worry about a bathing suit.


Matilda Swartz is a freshman communication major from Longport, N.J. She can be reached at [email protected].