“What a beautiful day in New York,” I think to myself as I walk with my friend Cristen down Fifth Avenue. The sun is shining and I’m excited to visit some art galleries before heading over to the beautiful Central Park to hear some live music and play Frisbee. I’m in such a great mood, I believe nothing can bother me today. That is, until sidewalk traffic completely stops moving near 56th. A line that looks to be the length of the entire East Coast seems to be coming out of Abercrombie and Fitch, with tourists shouting and jumping up and down excitedly. I am confused. With all of the amazing high-end shops on Fifth Avenue, this is what people are freaking out about? “Haven’t these people ever seen a preppy clothing store before?” I ask Cristen, annoyed at the congestion the commotion is causing. Just then, the girl in front of me, holding an enormous DSLR camera, stops short and I ram into her, spilling my strawberry banana smoothie onto my white shirt. “Sorry!” she smiles, giggling sheepishly. Yea, you look sorry. I scowl and huff at her, gritting my teeth. I don’t think I can be any more annoyed…until I see what she’s taking a photo of. “Haven’t these people ever seen cement before?!” I scream. The girl had literally taken a picture of a section of concrete wall. No shop sign, no store window, no decor of any kind. Just grey brick. This may sound amusing, but walk anywhere in Times Square and it becomes life. At times, the streets of New York become so crammed with tourists it can take you a good 10 minutes to walk a block that is 260 feet long. And for a local trying to get to work or meet a friend for a drink, it’s damn aggravating. Especially when you spill a strawberry banana smoothie on your white shirt. For a photo of a cement. As my face burns red with frustration, Cristen turns to me calmly and asks, “And what do you think you’re like when you visit other countries, Miss World Traveler?” She has a point. While I never take photos of building materials, I have snapped my fair share of food stalls, passing cars, lamp posts, plants, rocks, sticks, insects, sewage drains, garbage…okay, yea, I take a lot of pointless photos. Was I this annoying to locals when I traveled? Although I was still pissed about my once white shirt now being red and sticky, my heart softened a bit. Maybe she wanted to remember the architecture of the city, or maybe she really liked the color grey, or maybe she really had never seen cement before. I’m sure when I took photos of snail kebabs and tro-tros in Ghana, or thatched huts and buffalo in Thailand, they thought I was crazy; however, I genuinely had never seen these things before. So in response to my own questions, yes, I am a hypocrite. Although, I am starting to get better. When out and about in New York, I’ve begun trying to put myself back in a place of astonishment and wonder at every little thing which, as an added bonus, can actually be a fun way to view your home city. You want to take a photo of a yellow taxi or jump and cry because you finally got to visit your first Hollister, be my guest. You’ll hear no complaints from me. Just don’t get so excited you spill my smoothie.
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