Monday, May 23, 2011


Dear New Yorkers,

Let me tell you that yesterday I was not at my best.
I am normally pretty good at not looking like a tourist.
I know that yesterday I was carrying my belongings in a pillowcase, and I was standing on the subway platform weeping with frustration, and my hair looked like I had slept on a bus.

But let me explain that that was because I had slept on a bus,
and the New Century stop is nowhere near where they said it would be,
and is nowhere near the Lucky Star bus stop.
It was because the subway ticket machine charged $3.50 for a card that turned out to have no money on it,
and because the ticket lady disclaimed all knowledge.
It is because your subway platforms do not have their destinations labeled,
or if they did it was in a manner invisible to me.

In Richmond I realized how citified I had become at a yardsale,
under spreading oak trees across the street from my parents',
where a placid man and his little boy greeted me cheerily.
I realized I had my thumb looped protectively through my purse strap, lest someone yank it from me.
The habit I once had to turn on in cities
now has to get turned off in the suburbs.

I know how to live in Boston.
I don't get lost anymore.
I don't respond to men who try to talk to me.
I don't look at subway maps.

But you reminded me, New York,
that somewhere inside
I'll always be a bumpkin.

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