There is a certain rivalry amongst denizens of big cities over who has the worst driving situation. After today, my conclusion is that LA’s traffic is the worst, but NYC wins by a landslide in the awful drivers category. In fact, I’ve decided that driving in Manhattan is an excellent way to prepare for driving in the developing world. It’s basically anarchy. People changing lanes with no room and no turn signals? Check. People turning from completely the wrong lane and cutting people off? Check. People paying only casual attention to lights, stop signs, and lane markings? Check. Bicycles zipping through the whole mess as if they were immortal? DOUBLE CHECK.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the signage. Sweet mother of sock monkeys, it’s atrocious. I thought LA was bad–not even. It took me three tries to find a route ONTO the island of Manhattan, and two to cross over into Brooklyn. Missing exit numbers are nothing in comparison to confusing, tardy and mostly-hidden bridge notifications.
The one thing I will say is that LA’s aggressive driving style–when properly engaged–admirably neutralizes the forces of chaos at work in this city. No one does offensive driving like Angelinos. No one. The New York driving style exhibits a careless rudeness, rather than active malice. And when it encounters the latter, it yields.
I did eventually get to Ariela’s apartment in Prospect Heights. She and her boyfriend share a 1-bedroom place with their dog Ru. (Short for Haruki.) I love it. It has exposed brick in the kitchen, wood and tile floors, and great decor–it feels very New York, in the best way possible. I hauled a couple of things in, and then we went for a walk in Mount Prospect Park.
The park doesn’t feel as intentionally wild as Central Park does–but if I’d only spent time here, and not there, I’d still have been happy. There are huge trees, rolling hills, and great people watching. We passed a lot of picnics and one wedding on our meander, and walked over a mile while barely covering any of the trails. Ariela said that it’s really beautiful early in the morning. I don’t doubt that.
On the way back to her apartment, we stopped so I could get a picture of the Brooklyn Public Library:
I really love the decoration on the entrance. There is one thing that I find kind of mysterious: the brontosaurus on the bottom of the left pillar. There are animals on the doors, but that’s the only non-human on the pillars. Why is it there? And why, oh why, did they have to put a trash can in front of it? All I wanted was a picture of a shiny dinosaur. Was that too much to ask? Truly, a first-world tragedy.
As I wiped away my tears of disappointment at the photographic clutter, we made our way back to the apartment to drop off Ru. Then we went to the nearby market to get ingredients for that night’s dinner–squash blossom quesadillas. After that, Ariela and I ended up sitting around eating cheese, olives, and crackers and chatting more about our lives. We’ve known each other since first grade, so we have a lot to talk about.
In the later hours, Ariela’s boyfriend DY came home and cooked for us. I thought it was very kind of him, since he’d been out with friends, and had already eaten. Squash blossoms are an interesting ingredient, because their flavor is simultaneously floral and vegetal, but overall they made for a tasty dish.
We spent the rest of the evening chatting and making plans for the next day, which meant we went to bed rather late. But then again, isn’t that the best way to go to sleep, when you’re visiting friends?