Walk that walk

You can take someone out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of them.

Growing up in New Jersey and spending every free moment I had in the magical streets of Manhattan, I learned several survival skill lessons. However, there is  one lesson that I apply to my life every day no matter where I am. It is essential. It is vital.

Nope it’s not to say please and thank you, or to use my fork and knife. It’s not to clean up after myself or any of that.

It’s even more important. It’s something that is in the Tri-State area rule-book, it’s a part of us.

I constantly catch myself muttering, “sweetie, gd gave you two legs. You gotta walk.”

As an official Jersey girl and unofficial New Yorker, when I say “walk” I don’t mean walk like you are walking a dog, or window shopping. I wouldn’t classify “strolling” or “wandering” as synonyms for walk either.

Under Tri-State area standards, “walk” means topple over people, step on others, run and push fellow pedestrians over. It goes without saying you never need to apologize for breaking the leg of the person in your way. This person would of course be a tourist.

You would think pedestrians walking along 5th avenue are running away from a UFO at the pace they are going.

It’s obvious to me why New Yorkers walk so quickly. It’s not because they want to get to work on time, not because there are places to go and people to see, but rather because life is a gift and why waste even a single moment walking slowly. Isn’t that beautiful?

Hear that out-of-towners? New Yorkers do have a heart.

I have been told that I don’t walk quickly but instead I glide. I think that was a compliment. I just can’t walk slowly, my legs don’t let me. My Nordstroms boots are most definitely made for walking.

However, having left the Land of The Free And Home of The Brave to move to The Land of Milk And Honey, I have made many new observations. All pretty good. You know, I’m liking my Israeli friends and all that jazz, but the one thing that really bothers me more than anything is they are slow walkers. Painfully slow. I constantly need to bite my tongue to stop myself from saying something.

I have places to go. It may just be buying a hot cocoa since my life really doesn’t get more exciting than that, but that still counts as something. The fact that I need to tiptoe or walk one mile per hour behind someone truly kills me inside.

So forget about the bureaucracy, the language, the culture differences. None of that matters. All you future olim: work on your walking speed. It will help your absorption process, believe me.

About the Author
Lottie Kestenbaum was born to British parents and grew up in New Jersey. To add to the identity crisis, Lottie made aliyah in August 2012. Hello tri-citizenship! She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Holocaust Studies at Haifa University and living in Jerusalem. Yes, it is a shlep. No need to mention it :-)