Monday, February 16, 2009

Paterson

This weekend I went to Canada. Today, I went to Paterson, NJ. Some of the places I visited there today are places I have been going for years, but I also discovered some new places. It was wonderful. It was like the interesting cultural experience of going to New York City but much less hectic and with much lower prices. We got fabric for a wedding dress for 1/5 of the price of the retail stores. I got a 1/4 lb tub of green peppercorns for $3.50. (I also got some interesting fabric.) It was overwhelming, so many sights and smells, so many colors, hearing so many different languages...
It was interesting to see such ugly buildings, these dilapidated old warehouses, packed from floor to ceiling with beautiful things. Paterson was so vibrant, so alive, that it overwhelmed and obscured all that ugliness. When I go to New York, I notice the ugly buildings. In New Brunswick, I notice that people seem unhappy. I notice how impoverished the place seems. Here, it didn't feel that way. Maybe it was all in my head. I don't know.
In any case, it was a reminder (which I may or may not have needed) that I do not need to leave the country or drive a thousand miles to experience something different from the routine. (Also, I don't need to go back to New Brunswick to stock up on Middle Eastern groceries--now I realize that Paterson is only 30 minutes away.) I am lucky enough to be in an area where urban and rural are only thirty minutes apart. Sometimes, it feels like the whole world is concentrated in New York and New Jersey and like you get some fraction of the experience of traveling around the world just by traveling to certain places in New Jersey (and keeping an open mind.) This is probably where I belong.

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