This place sucks (now).
I’m sitting in my car on the side of street near my apartment in Astoria. A lady is sitting in her car in front of me. A few cars behind me a guy is just sitting in his car. I’m eating breakfast — a bowl of Greek yogurt with figs, blueberries, peanut butter, pecans, and pumpkin seeds. I settled in and relaxed. I’d be going nowhere soon — we’d all just be sitting in our cars on the side of the road for the next hour and a half until either a parking cop or street cleaner arrives.
NYC has alternate side parking so that the streets can be cleaned. This was suspended throughout the pandemic and had just started up again this week. The problem is that a huge amount of people still haven’t returned to work / are now working from home and restaurants have taken over parking spots in the street to provide more outdoor seating. It is difficult to find a place to put your vehicle in the best of times but with one side of the street off limits for cleaning it’s now impossible. So hundreds — probably even thousands — of us just sit out in our cars on the wrong side of the road and keep a look out for traffic cops.
I see one! She walked up to ticket the vehicle behind me. We scatter like flies. I go to the next block. 10 minutes later a street cleaner turns the corner. I start my engine and pull out in unison with a half dozen other drivers. I return to my street and park in front of my building. A lady in nurse scrubs pulls up behind me and just sits there. A guy in a business suit sits in the car in front of me. I watch as drivers fill in the blanks all down the street.
The weather gets hotter. I sweat through the back of my shirt and into the seat. What am I doing? I ask myself. Why am I here? Why do I want to be in a highly regulated city ruled by a hypocritical autocrat where masses of people have to sit in their cars for an hour and a half each week because there’s no room to park?
I could be upstate planting a garden. I could be on the beaches of Oaxaca. I could be in the hills of Taiwan. I could be in a free state that values civil liberties and doesn’t imprison their constituents in a disgusting game of partisan politics.
What am I getting out of being here?
I can’t say that coming to NYC was a mistake. No move in travel is a pot shot — some will hit the target and others won’t. NYC was always a gamble, something that was clear from the start. But what I could never have planned for was a for the city to implode — its rotten core spewing all over everyone. What you get here is no longer worth what you pay for it. I should have joined the exodus out in March.
But instead I violated the core precept of travel: always be moving to where the grass is greener.
When 10am hit we all quietly stepped out of our cars and walk off to do our days.