I grew up in the Midwest, where people are friendly and say hi to each other in the morning and on the street when we pass by each other. I believe my true default state is to be friendly. In New York City, most of the time, people do not greet each other on the street. Do not think we are an unfriendly lot. This is an extremely social city, in fact. There is a lot of love here. It’s just that we are all too busy and distracted to remember to greet each other. It is a flaw.
On the one hand: You can be invisible in New York. What a great place to be anonymous. On the other hand: If you don’t watch it, you might just disappear into yourself forever.
When I lived in New Orleans everywhere I went people said hello. I loved taking a walk there in the morning because I was guaranteed some sort of human contact. I still mean to write something about the different ways people acknowledge each other, a wave versus a head nod versus a “How are you?” versus a bright and cheerful “Good Morning!” I would take any and all of it, but I think my favorite was when someone waved hello and smiled. I don’t know why I liked it so much. It just felt really sweet to me. Even just typing that and thinking about it made me happy.
I’ve only been back a few weeks and I see my thoughts overtaking my awareness of the outside world. Sometimes I am so occupied with them I do not even realize I am walking, and when I arrive at a destination it is as if I have just awakened from a dream. I promised myself that I wouldn’t turn back into that person again, though. I walked on the bayou every day for months and I promised myself I wouldn’t forget to say hello in the mornings even if no one was saying hello back to me.
I guess what I’m saying is, if you see me, say hello.