Everyday, I go from being severely overdressed, sticking out like a sore thumb, to feeling incredibly underdressed among some of the richest people in the world.
My commute consists of 40-60 minutes of a subway ride from Harlem, home to the famous dance move and many accomplished hip-hop artists, to the southern tip of Manhattan known as the Financial District.
Finding a perfect medium where your clothing is casual enough to not be harassed by Mexican construction workers yet still meet the standards of the Wall Street is probably one of the hardest things a woman will ever have to do.
But other than the first-world problems and whining, what I really notice from this daily commute is the ridiculously different world Manhattan becomes once you go further away from the city’s “concentration of wealth.”
In Wall Street, subway signs are illuminated by flat-screen TVs displaying the latest movie trailers and local advertisements for Yoga classes. People are walking around with name brand purses that could pay for several semesters of my college tuition and little celebrity dogs who eat more organic food and groomed better than I ever have in my life. Food trucks are selling frozen yogurt and vegan sandwiches with venders who are actually polite and women stroll the streets in their weekend stiletto heels. It’s basically Utopia.
When I get home, I’m immediately greeted by the same smelly homeless man who always sits next to the subway entrance (an actual hole-in-the-wall) and wonderful grade “B” deli shops. Walls in the Subway station look like scary movie sets and the floor that was once tile now strictly resembles gravel. Sometimes groups of five or six Mexicans or Black teens sit outside on the curb, waiting for anything female to walk by so they can make kissing noises and talk amongst themselves about how they would “tow that shit up.”
It’s as if the increasing street numbers represent its amount of animosity.
However, these grittier parts of New York seem to be much easier to feel like home than the scarily luxurious areas. After living so long in the clean-cut utopian culture of Midwest America, completely forgetting what a world with no airconditioning, no FDA or smooth roads is like (aka. the rest of the world), I like to be reminded to appreciate what I have and that luxury is not a necessity of living. Harlem is not at all equivalent to a third-world country, but it’s certainly a reality check.
Your sense of satisfaction can be easily warped when luxury is abundant, and it’s easy to be spoiled without even realizing it.
Happiness is a perspective — Nothing is worse than having everything you need and want, yet still always yearning for more.