Part 4: Transitions
I spent the summer living for the second time in a low, white house in Ridgemont with four fantastic roommates and one passive aggressive cat named Lupe. We had a potato patch, a whole lot of bikes, a big crabapple tree with drooping branches (that bears like to relax and unwind in during the Fall), and while you were showering you could look out of a little window at Mt. Fernie. One of my favourite parts of summer days was riding my bike down the Ridgemont hill early on the way to work, especially on some of those foggy August mornings.
In early September I moved back to New York for my third and last semester, and into a Park Slope, Brooklyn apartment with two people I met last year. I already love Brooklyn. Our landlords are two burly Italian men named Vinnie and Mario who run the pizza shop next door, there are delicious coffee shops and noodle places everywhere, and sprawling 585-acre Prospect Park is a five minute bike ride away. There is a bus stop across the street from my apartment, and from my bedroom window I can watch all the interesting characters arriving in waves. None of the buildings in this family- and dog-filled neighborhood exceed three or four stories, rent is student-friendly, and there are trees everywhere. You can even buy beer at all the corner stores (called “bodegas”) dotting each intersection. Now my commute is on the subway over the Manhattan Bridge past graffiti covered apartment blocks and through chaotic Chinatown.
One of the best parts about living in Fernie is that the people seem to make being nice a priority. An obvious reason for this is that our mountain town attracts and is made up of a lot of really lovely people, but the great thing about a small community is that people are accountable for how they treat another. When I first arrived in Fernie I remember being blown away by all the generosity in the town and how much people wanted to help each other out. There is not a lot of anonymity in Fernie, and that means that treating others well and being friendly seems natural.
Being around such nice people is infectious. When your cashier wants to know the details of your day skiing and what runs were your favourite and the person making your coffee genuinely wants to know how you are doing, it encourages you to be that open to others. One of the biggest things I struggled with last year was how to deal with people in New York who just were not that nice. People who are unfriendly in big cities aren’t necessarily not nice people, it is just one of the unavoidable realities of living in a city of millions that people don’t like engage with strangers or always act very open around people that they don’t know well. I did an internship at a food magazine in the Spring and the 20 or so staff that I worked under were brilliant, creative, and motivated people. They were so impressive in a lot of ways, but being friendly just did not seem to always be on their radar. I couldn’t reconcile myself with the idea that there just was not time in their schedules to say hi to people or ask how they were doing.
I thought a lot this summer about how I could make my last semester in this city really fulfilling and how to get the most out of it. One goal of mine is to make an effort to have my neighborhood feel like my own small-town community by getting to know it inside and out, making connections with other people who live in Park Slope, and becoming as involved as possible. I think it is important within your neighborhood to treat people the same way that you would in a small town. By making that little bit of extra effort to connect with people, even when it feels a little overwhelming, I’m hoping to bring a little bit of that friendly Fernie vibe to Brooklyn.