On a completely unrelated note to Jill’s post about parents, kids & public spaces in New York City, these lines about New Yorkers stuck out at me:
You don’t chat with people in line at the grocery store; you don’t talk to strangers on the subway; you don’t interrupt or disturb other diners in restaurants. We spend so much time in public, surrounded by so many people, that even in public people feel a strong necessity to maintain hard boundaries when it comes to personal space.
See, I’ve long noticed that about NY, having been there on a few fairly long visits, and it’s something I would have a hard time getting used to. Even though Moscow’s huge, and cramped, people chat to each other in grocery stores all the time – or at least the grocery stores I frequent. People talk to one another on the metro. Public life bleeds fairly effortlessly into the private, or vice versa. Sometimes, it can be annoying, even infuriating. But after over a decade in the South, not talking to strangers as much sometimes makes me feel as though I’m trapped behind glass.