Metro North’s glide from Bridgeport to Grand Central is a simple one for me and my one drawstring bag. My 90 minute trip doesn’t feel so long as I sight see out the small train window.
Manhattan is something I enjoy as a semi tourist. The self imposed label for those of us visiting New York from Connecticut. Just close enough to pretend you’re a real New Yorker for the day. Our accents don’t stick out like the ones from down south, out west, England, Australia, or any other place that involves a plane ride, and those trendy travel backpacks that hold “liters” worth of stuff. It’s why real tourists, the ones who paid their dues between travel, multiple nights in a hotel room, and signing up for those bus tours sometimes ask us for directions. We get really excited to explain the grid system we’ve come to love when following the city’s streets. For a moment, as we wear all black because a YouTube video told us that is what New Yorkers do, we get to pretend were home.
I have my favorite sights to see as the train first enters Manhattan. That one brownstone way uptown that lets me know I can enter tourist mode. It’s the equivalent of an adult telling a child, “We’re here,” on vacation. Then there’s soccer field that always has a game going. The field is one soccer game big, but space is limited. We’re officially not in the suburbs anymore. These aren’t the things you would use to sell New York to a tourist, but I can go regularly, so I take solace in the things that real New Yorkers have and the attractions tourists enjoy alike.
My phone has enough tourist photos so I quickly make my way from the crowded train platform into the main area of the terminal, and out the door that leads to 42nd Street. Connecticut is the preppy part of the tri-state area but you wouldn’t know it as I wear my hoodies and skateboard style sneakers. The slimmer ones, not the chunky ones myself and fellow millennial’s wanted in 2005. I would look like a normal chill New Yorker if I could just stop looking up. Real New Yorkers look forward.
The largest component of my day in New York will be walking. I’ll walk with my dollar slice of pizza, I’ll walk through Times Square, and I’ll walk through Central Park, and so on. I could take a subway for a break, but I’m a cheapskate so I will avoid that metro card fee like pedestrians avoid the pigeons that line the sidewalks. Burning calories also inspires me to walk. There’s a McDonalds everywhere, and I will be stopping at at least one.
The best days feature a lengthy visit to the New York Public Library. As I turn out of Byrant Park and past the lions I feel at home. I’m one of those proud to be a nerd types so the library is always the place to be.
With a deep breath I eventually decide to leave. Back into Grand Central I go. Inside the train the announcements play, telling people to keep their bags off the seat and listing the stops. Myself and other passengers have to accept that we’re actually going home now. We’re not the New Yorkers we can easily pretend to be. As I begin to pass through Westport and the Fairfield stops I slip into my Connecticut vibe again. Suburban chic one day, city dweller another. Somewhere between being a fake New Yorker and proud nutmegger the term semi tourist defines me.