27 January 2007

Everyone's a Person in Your Neighborhood

One of the things I like most about Brooklyn is that it contains real neighborhood in which you're likely to meet people you know on the street who will give you a nod, a wave, a "hi" or a short chat—something I never experienced in my time in Manhattan.

That said, on some days, one of things I like least about Brooklyn is...you're likely to meet people you know on the street.

Like most New Yorkers, I sometimes crave isolation and want to lose myself in the anonymity of the crowd. That has become nearly impossible in recent years. In my neighborhood of Carroll Gardens, during a short, five-block walk to the grocery store or a bakery or the subway, the odds are I will meet an acquaintance or friends: a fellow parent who's kid goes to my son's school; a member of my wife's house of worship, which is a 10-minute walk away; various neighborhood friends; the owners of shops and restaurants I patronize, etc., etc. On some errands, I will be stopped on the street four or five times. On one such recent occasion, I turned to my wife, who had the same bleary-eyed expression I had on my face, and said, "We know too many people."

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't have it any other way. Friendly is better than not friendly; neighbors are better than no. But I have begun to appreciate the feeling of being a stranger while on my forays into The City.

POSTSCRIPT (30 Jan. 2007): A thanks to the fine folks at Curbed (see "Links" to the right) for linking to this item, and for the humorous headline.

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