It's raining today. It was raining last week on our last day in New York City. But, it's just rain, or is it?
When we woke up last Thursday in the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan, the streets were wet. We had planned to go on a cruise to the Statue of Liberty, but without rain gear, treking 40 blocks to the dock and huddling with masses in a small covered area to click a few far away shots of the statue didn't feel like a good time. Changing our plans, we headed out toward MoMA to see Van Gogh, Matisse and Monet instead. Our maid warned us about the terrible weather and to make sure we picked up an umbrella at the front desk.
We smiled and shrugged. We are from the west coast, after all.
East coast calls it rain.
East coast New Yorkers all carry umbrellas and use them at the slightest drop of rain. They avoid puddles in a like ducklings in a line afraid of dissolving in water. This behavior causes more crowding and fast-paced dodging at crosswalks as they all try to hurry along without getting their feet wet. They have umbrella stands inside every door of every building and they are full to the brim with folded up, wet umbrellas.
West coast calls it mist.
West coast Portlanders never carry umbrellas unless it's a torrential downpour and we're dressed up for an event. We walk through puddles like the ducks, talking away and smiling at each other. There are very few umbrella stands around and in the event of umbrella usage, we just put them under our seats, in our backpacks or carry them, if necessary.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was packed to the brim because of the wet streets.
East coast museum viewers stand in front of everyone.
They were rushing from room to room, footsteps echoeing through the building, crowding around the paintings unwilling to let anyone else in closer. The natives just walked right in front of the crowds viewing the paintings, stopping briefly to see the work. They push their faces within inches of the paintings.
West coast museum viewers wait their turns.
We move calmly from room to room, no hard heels clicking the floors and only the sounds of hushed voices. We walk around each other, allowing everyone to get a view. We stand back from the paintings. If we go in for a closer look, we look around first to make sure we're not blocking anyone else's view.
I'm not critizing. I'm not advocating one way of being vs another. I'm not doing the East vs West coast thing. I'm just observing that the energy and attitudes are completely different.
The differences in rain reactions here and in New York City as as different as the culture. As I look outside, I see the flow of rain as a great illustration of the flow of life on two coasts, east and west, fast and slow, harried and relaxed.