Cultural Whiplash: From the Peace of Stonington to the Pace of Brooklyn

Brooklyn_May2014Talk about cultural whiplash. Yesterday I was filling out my Moose Permit Lottery Application and dreaming of WMDs (Wildlife Management Districts). Today I am in Brooklyn, NY.

Let me explain. As we enter the preantepenultimate (I love that word) month of our Gap Year  I am fulfilling a couple of promises to others and to myself. [Ed. note: Sigh… he means fourth from the last month. – DW] First, I am spending quality time with my local granddaughters, although they do not understand what quality time is. Second, I am going urban with a capital U. As we pack out of our D.C. existence, that means separating my clothes into categories that include Stonington, store, toss, giveaway and (the new) Urban category.

Brooklyn: first time working in a Starbucks

For the first time in my life, I am sitting in the closest Starbucks, sipping decaf, writing and watching a sea of humanity flow by as a powerful rainstorm ramps up outside. How Urban can I get. I have left my granddaughters with their nanny. One is napping and the other subdued by strep throat. I am surrounded by an assortment of the usual Starbucks’ denizens: unwashed old men, screenplay writer wannabes tapping away on their computers, coveys of young women drinking finely-tuned caffeinated beverages and track-suited urban jocks. Next time I will arrive unshaven and I will affect a wild-eyed stare and I will fit right in with the unwashed around me.

Debbie loves it here. She loves the foodies, the stylish, the crowds, the diversity and the density. I am not so sure but it certainly is different.

We spent the last few days in D.C. and that was plenty of “culture” for me.

Stonington vs. Georgetown vs. Brooklyn

Stonington has good clean dirt mixed with granite dust. Georgetown has high-priced garden topsoil mixed with the red powder of brick sidewalks. Brooklyn has grime that looks like a homogenization of cement dust, gum, human juices and excrement.

Stonington has the occasional pedestrian. Georgetown has waves of tourists. Brooklyn has a relentless flood tide of hoi polloi. I am sure that in the last few minutes one out of every ethno-biological human subtype has passed my window perch, all assiduously averting their eyes and pretending to be focused on some unseen goal.

Now, I like culture as much as the next person but I do not feel we have to fight through crowds to find something intellectually stimulating and worth enjoying. Furthermore, I think moments of peace, so necessary to a thoughtful existence, are hard to find in the hyper urban world.

As Debbie and I negotiate the next phase of our life it will be all about the yin and yang of Brooklin, ME (near Stonington but with more boat builders and fewer lobstermen), versus Brooklyn, NY. How much of each do we need? How much can we tolerate to satisfy the other’s need? Wish us luck.

Photo credit: snapped with Debbie’s iPhone; looking across to Manhattan from the Brooklyn Promenade.

3 Responses to Cultural Whiplash: From the Peace of Stonington to the Pace of Brooklyn

  1. Karen Lightner May 18, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    I miss the conversations on the porch of the guest house in Bududa, don’t you?


  1. 12 Months Later: Debbie’s Biggest Takeaway | Gap Year After Sixty - May 30, 2014

    […] the top of the list is a plan to rent an apartment in Brooklyn this fall for three to six months. Brooklyn, it is clear, is the antithesis of Stonington, ME. It is everything that the coast of Maine is not: high volume, dense, overflowing with restaurants, […]

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