There are two types of New Yorkers that live in Manhattan: Uptowners, and Downtowners.
The Uptowners never go south, and the Downtowners never go above 14th Street unless there is a literal zombie apocalypse.
In case you’re wondering…I am a Downtowner. I like my little existence in the Village, and only venture uptown for auditions, work, or on the very rare occasion, to get together with a friend who had a momentary lapse of judgement and wanted to grab a drink in midtown.
But I digress.
Aside from the sheer convenience factor, there really is a different feel to the two. Different paces of life. Different architecture. Downtown is the artsy scene, with winding cobblestone streets, and eclectic restaurants, and brownstones that truly give it a neighborhood feel. Think, Friends. Whereas, uptown is the stereotypical hustle and bustle of NYC. You’ve got Times Square, Penn Station, Rockefeller Center — it’s the rat race of men and women in business suits power walking in the global mecca of urban business. The buildings scrape the sky, and everyone is on a mission, and seemingly five minutes late.
Again, your girl is definitely a downtown chick.
Well, anyways. This past weekend, my friend wanted to go to the New York Botanical Garden, which is wayyyyy uptown. So uptown that it isn’t even in Manhattan anymore: it’s in the Bronx…which, for perspective…the streets are in the 250’s. It is far. Over an hour on the subway, far.
But, as someone who lives for a social outing, I happily pulled out my subway map and hopped on the train into the unknown.
I was by myself, as we were meeting there, and…I guess you could say that for a sleepy Sunday morning, I seemed a little out of place. I was dressed in a cute summer dress, complete with a sunhat that Audrey Hepburn would have swooned for.
Case in point: twice, during that hour trip, I had two gentlemen ask me if I needed help figuring out where I was. No, I am not lost, thank you very much.
Anywho. I ended up having a conversation that really struck a chord with me that morning on the train.
We were up in the 130’s, and the train had really thinned out. Those that were still on board were in it for the long haul. They had their books, their Kindles, their earbuds. They were hunkered down and in the “commute zone.”
Except for me. In my sunhat and look of bewilderment at the smells and sights of the subway.
Well, this guy who was sitting across from me, looked at me and said, “That’s a dope hat.”
Now, before my mother, reading this, has a panic attack — this was not a “come on.” I have honed a very keen sense of “stranger danger,” and this young man was definitely not a threat, Okay?
But I smiled at him, and thanked him. He was probably about 24ish. He was wearing fashionable baggy black sweatpants, a black zip up hoodie, and a dark green, velvet durag. He had his Beats headphones around his neck, and the kindest eyes I had ever seen.
“I like this” I said, pointing to his headwear.
He gave a big chuckle, and said thank you. “You’re not from these parts.” he continued with a laugh.
And I proceeded to concur that, no, in fact, I wasn’t, and that I was on my way to the Botanical Garden.
He then stuck out his hand and introduced himself, “Kenny.”
And for the next several minutes, we had a really lovely conversation. He told me about how he loved the botanical garden, because he loved nature. He lived in NYC his entire life and has never been outside of the city, “not even upstate.” So for him, the botanical garden is a glimpse into life outside the concrete grid.
But towards the end of our exchange, he said something that really hit me. He goes, “You cool. Most people, when they see how I dress, they assume things. They think I’m hood. But nah – I like things. I have ambition.” And proceeded to talk about his aspirations of starting his own clothing line.
But that stayed with me for the rest of the afternoon. And I’m not going to lie, as I was walking around the garden, looking at the flowers, I couldn’t help but think about Kenny, and our conversation that morning.
Most people assume things.
Isn’t that the truth.
One that, yeah…I’m super guilty of. I’m not proud of it, but yeah, if I’m being honest, I can definitely judge a book by its cover — even when that “book” is a living, breathing, child of God.
But it turns out that we both had a lot more common ground than we thought. I mean, who knew that we’d end up connecting over snapdragons and day lilies?
Kenny really surprised me that morning. I think sometimes God puts situations like that in our path just to remind us that we weren’t created to live in a bubble of comfort or homogeny. We weren’t made to live an “uptown” or “downtown”-only existence. We were created to live together. We were created for community, intermingling with all walks of life, all backgrounds and cultures and histories.
You know what, Kenny was right — I wasn’t “from those parts.” And frankly, as a girl from suburban Ohio, I have absolutely zero idea — I can’t even conceptualize — what it must have been like to grow up in the Bronx, New York, and experience that life.
But there’s a common bond of humanity that we both found on the train that morning.
And wouldn’t you know – it was connecting over God’s beauty in nature: flowers. It’s as simple as that.
So thank you, Kenny, for not only reaching out to me that day, but encouraging me to branch out from below 14th street, and start looking for the commonality, rather than the differences between people.
Because whether it’s a sunhat, a sombrero, a cowboy hat, a fisherman’s hat, or a durag — we’re all more than our headgear. And it’s not the hat, but the person wearing it that matters.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.
Sign up below for my free newsletter!
Get my daily videos, recipes and posts delivered straight to your inbox!
Here was yesterday’s video! https://youtu.be/8pmp4ZI968A
MAGIC TOOTHPASTE? Yes! I am in love with this superior whitening toothpaste. It keeps my smile sparkling, without sensitivity or bleach! I made a website where you can directly order this miracle product! So if you want to give it a try, you can go ahead and grab a tube for yourself. I promise, your smile will thank you!
THE FABFITFUN SUMMER BOX IS HERE! And I made an UNBOXING video! I was — flipping out — over the contents of this box. It is far and away the best, FabFitFun box I’ve received yet. (Hello, Brazilian Bum Bum Cream!?!?!) I had an absolute blast filming it, so I would love it if you gave it a watch! And to order a box for yourself, you can get $10 off by using my code BEACHBABE.
Be sure to check out my affiliate, Audible. Listening to audiobooks while I cook is literally my new favorite thing. And just for you, they’re offering a Free 30-Day Trial Membership. And with this free membership, you’re going to get 2 free audiobooks! Literally. Free. It is the best deal ever. And if for some reason, you decide it’s not for you, you can cancel within those 30 days and it’s zero money out of your pocket, plus, you get to keep the 2 audiobooks. Soooo…it’s pretty much a no brainer. Plus, it’s a free and easy way to support this blog! So thank you!!
Huge shoutout to my favorite: Ethos Spa Skin and Laser Center in Summit, New Jersey! Located just outside of NYC, this gorgeous medical spa keeps my skin healthy and bright! Stop in and treat yo’self! 🙂
@beauty.beyond.bones – Instagram
For Podcast versions of my posts, please check out Patreon! It’s only $2 a month!! You make this blog possible 🙂
And really quickly, I’ve had several questions concerning my Amazon link (amazon.com/shop/beautybeyondbones) — You do not need to buy one of my specific highlighted products on my page, in order for it to “credit” my account. Any purchases that you search or make from anywhere on Amazon, after first visiting my Amazon page, will credit this blog and help support this blog ministry. I am truly so grateful and appreciative to those of you wanting to do so! So thank you! Again, it is an absolutely free, and easy way for you to help keep this blog going!