Over my holiday visit to Brooklyn, I realized with new clarity just how much New Yorkers value efficiency.
It feels as if distance from NYC living is giving me new insight into what that humming machine of a city is really about.
New Yorkers, I can tell you, value a quickly-moving queue.
At Christmas Eve dinner with a friend’s family, my dear Brooklynites praised the speed with which the Court Street Italian pastry shop filled orders this holiday season, quickly ticking through an out-the-door line of customers buying Christmas cookies.
There’s great appreciation, too, for the New York traffic merge. Mary doesn’t mind letting me know that Seattleites are terrible mergers in comparison. As she says, “You can’t stop when you’re merging! You have to keep moving!”
On the tail end of our trip, the line at JFK Airport’s Delta terminal moved so swiftly that I hardly had a chance to rest my bag. Airport workers processed travelers through constant movement, like we were toys on a life-sized assembly line.
When I’m in New York, I encounter lots of people who really value efficiency, because New York is a city of things happening quickly, of stuff getting done and checked off the list.
It’s a city that excels at moving millions of people around a tiny island every single day, and doing it quickly, because these people have places to be.
New York attracts people who value what it, as an amorphous being, values.
Like any place, its inhabitants’ beliefs shape it, and it shapes them.
When I realized all of this over vacation, I got curious about what it is that Seattle values.
Because I so longed to move here, I wondered whether these values would align more closely with my own. Here’s what I found:
- Intellect: Seattle reads a lot of books. The Seattle Public Library System has the highest percentage of cardholders per capita in the United States. Being brainy is considered pretty darn cool here.
- Nature: Since moving to Seattle, I’ve met a lot of people who work in Earth sciences, volunteer their time to promote environmental justice, and/or take composting very, very seriously. People here tend to spend a lot of time in nature, to be reverent of it, and to know a lot about it.
- Time for Recreation: According to my own biased observations, it seems that people here tend to leave work closer to 5 than New Yorkers, and to take weekends really, truly off. Workers take their vacation time here. They get out and about when they’re not at work. It seems like this city values leisure and quality of life pretty highly.
After making this little list, it’s even more clear to me why I moved here.
I value learning, I’m mildly obsessed with libraries, and I’m a great proponent of time off.
When I lived in Brooklyn, I desperately yearned for more time in nature. I adore rain in a way that few others do. To me, the subtle, haunting beauty of the Northwest is like magic. And much to Mary’s chagrin, efficiency isn’t always the highest value on my list.
As I get ready for Who Am I Now, I’m starting to ask more probing questions of myself on a regular basis:
Where do I feel at home?
What is it about the things I love that draws me to them?
What does this location I’ve chosen have to teach me about myself?
In learning about what Seattle values, I’m learning about what it is that I value at this point in my life. What I yearn for. And also where I might be headed.
. . .