new york city contains the most amazing juxtapositions of abundance and scarcity. i don't mean this in the obvious way (the mexico, india way) of really really rich people right up next to really really poor people. instead i mean that nyc itself contains an abundance of resources and yet they can also feel scarce--real or imagined.
the obvious scarcity is square footage. 400 sq. feet per person is luxurious (at least for the people i hang out with). a box in the sky must serve as a palace. a 600 sq. foot restaurant holds an entire kitchen and 20 tables. in this way, the scarcity breeds a kind of abundance--space is abundantly maximized, people must be abundantly creative. the obvious abundance is choice. four dry cleaners in three blocks, 7 italian restuarants in four blocks, etc.
last weekend was a weekend in which i kept encountering the paradox of abundance and scarcity. first i decided to check out the popular "sculpt" class at my gym. i actually try to avoid the gym on weekends since it is so crowded, but i made an exception in this case. i got there 45 minutes before the class start time and got the second to last space! then, once they opened the doors, i had to scuttle in and grab the necessary weights (i eavesdropped on the conversation outside and gleaned some inside tips). it was a crazy free-for-all, way too much stress. the class was ok. pretty good. but i will never go back. the wartime feeling of desperation in the face of scarcity over a GYM CLASS was too strange.
the next morning my mother, brother and i tried to get into my local brunch joint at 10:50 am. this used to be the place i went when i didn't want a wait. i can't even print the name here because the place has gotten so g-damn popular it really doesn't need any more kind words. but at 10:50 am, the wait was 45 minutes. and the line kept growing, people huddled in the chilly rain under their black umbrellas. we ended up at a perfectly fine place down the block which was half empty. new yorkers seem to thrive on this feeling of getting in on something scarce, i realized.
nyc is a city overflowing with choices, overflowing with resources, and yet i often find myself waiting on a line, cramming myself into a too-tight space, fighting for 3-lb. weights as though my life depended on it.