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Peace and Quiet

New Yorkers, especially those of us who have lived here forever, have a way of being alone in a crowd of people. This skill is a necessary one when the woman next to you on the bus starts preaching about Jesus at top volume (happened to me yesterday) or when you are pushing your way through Times Square. (I don't go there.) This skill may be why people from other places think us city folk are so rude. It's not that we don't like you. We just want to be left alone.

Yesterday I was forced to spend four hours in the level of hell known as the DMV.(I figure if I can handle a triangle choke I can pass a driving test in New York City. However,  I am willing to accept that I might be wrong.) Just my luck, it seemed that everyone in Brooklyn also had business there.

There is a special kind of incompetence that exists at the DMV. First I waited in a line outside the permit testing room. This was the line for the line inside the room. There was a guy whose entire job was to tell people in my line when it was time to move inside to the other line. Apparently we could not handle this task on our own. Once inside a different person checked our application and our six hundred forms of ID and then handed us a test paper and a pencil. Yes you heard that right. A piece of paper and a pencil! Despite the fact that it is 2012 and everyone in the room probably had a cellphone that could access the test online. If there was such a thing. Which of course there isn't. After a different person graded the test (yes with a red pen) I then waited in another line to get my picture taken. And then another line to pay for the whole thing. The last wait took almost two hours. To pay my bill. Which could also be done online. If there was such a thing. Which of course there isn't.

In typical NY fashion, I barely spoke to anyone while I was there. Even so, when I finally left all I wanted was some empty space, some fresh air, and some peace and quiet. I could not stomach another place full of people so I walked in what I thought was the direction of the bus route. Eventually I got lost and ended up by the water underneath the BQE. I took a boat home. (I am not being funny, I really did take a boat home. The East River Ferry. And it was blissfully empty.)

Peace and quiet is hard to come by when you are a mom. Someone is always talking. "Mommy, can I have ice cream? If I eat my dinner can I have ice cream? Why can't I have ice cream? Mommy I like chocolate ice cream. Can I have chocolate ice cream? Remember at the beach house when we had ice cream?" If Maya is not talking to me she is playing teacher to her toys or she is singing a song she made up or she is yelling at the dog. Sometimes she is quiet but the Fresh Beat Band is singing (just like a rock star hey hey hey) or Rapunzel's mom is yelling at her to let down her hair again . Most of the time I love it. Sometimes my world is just too damn loud.

By the time I got to the dojo last night to take my own class I had ridden in a car full of conversation, taught a group of four and five year olds how to punch and kick, and had dinner with my parents and a very exuberant Maya. Not to mention the DMV. I was ready for some me time. Unfortunately I own the dojo. The teacher is my husband. Many of the students are good friends of mine and even if I didn't like them (which I do) it is kind of my job to be nice to them.

It is a testament to the students in our dojo that I could not stay cranky for long. I thought I wanted peace and quiet but apparently what I really wanted was to gossip with the women in the changing room, chat with one of the yellow belts about his weekend plans and spend an hour discussing motherhood with one of my favorite people. It was a nice end to a crappy day.

That being said, while in class I tried to just train. The nice thing about karate is that you can really be by yourself, punching an imaginary bad guy (or your boss, if it was that kind of day)   You can yell and kick and sweat and basically just throw yourself into it all until whatever you were pissed off about goes away. This is one of the reasons I don't just take jiu-jitsu. There is no way to be left alone when someone has his big beefy arm wrapped around your neck.

That was yesterday. Today, after class, Maya wanted to go "adventuring" in Central Park. This means we walk around in the bushes, climbing over rocks and through trees, looking for something interesting. (Other than dog poop or hypodermic needles, not that those things are not interesting.) It is the way city kids "hike". (It is also the way I hike since I do not like the woods and being anywhere without cellphone service scares me. ) At one point we found ourselves on top of a hill, overlooking a panorama of grass and lake, with a silhouette of buildings off in the distance. I showed her how if you spread your arms wide it felt like you were flying over it. No one else was nearby. We could hear the wind in the trees and our feet crunching through the brown leaves on the ground. Occasionally a twig snapped and we wondered if it was a bear.

Maya talked a lot on our walk, almost the whole time. Today I did not mind it at all.


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