Monday, October 12, 2009

Big City, Small World

The first year I lived in the city, whenever I went back to my small Pennsylvania hometown for the holidays, I would hear from high school classmates, “Didn’t you move somewhere crazy?”

On one hand, sure, I guess I did. I got run into by an old man in a wheelchair the other day (being pushed by a teenager) while I was standing perfectly still on a street corner. Which is only the most recent in strange things that have happened in the last eight years--and one of the most mild.

But New York, and especially Brooklyn, most of the time feel even smaller than my hometown. Even though there are millions of people in this city, and even though I see so many different ones every single day, I also see familiar faces. I can get on the subway and it’s not all that unusual for one of my best friends to get on the same car. Walking from one of my favorite indie bookstores to the B&N down the street, recently, I ran into another friend and we stopped to talk books and art until we both got too cold. And, of course, children’s publishing is an even smaller world, where everyone knows everyone, and you’re never at an event by yourself. Occasionally even when that event has no relation to publishing (but of course everything to do with good taste).

I always get a warm glow when I run into someone I know. It leaves me smiling. Seeing friends when you expect them and when you least expect them makes this vast city cozy. And surprising, and familiar, and, yes, strange. And it makes it home.

Cue Cheers theme song.


  1. It's amazing how big and how small this planet truly is. I run into people I know in the most unlikely places. And sometimes my worlds collide and someone I know from circle A will show up at Event B. Confusing but fun.

  2. This happens to me all the time, too. When I lived in Chicago, I worked downtown, and at least once a month I'd randomly run into people I knew as I was running errands (and ran into a celebrity or two on occasion, too--which I usually noticed because someone was gushing at them as I ran to lunch or something). I used to think it was just me, but maybe it's something to do with the way a big city works--the way smaller social networks start to grow around you when you move to a new city.

    At any rate, it's always good to know you're not alone in such a big place, isn't it?