Leaving Columbia on Thursday, I hopped on the M60 bus to La Guardia, and saw my life in NYC flash before my eyes. People, places, and things in New York are impersonal. Everything moves fast. Except the buses, which are to the traffic flow what Danica Patrick is to the field at an Indy Car race. In other words, they make a lot of noise, cause a crash or two, then end up finishing last. Anyway, two things were particularly striking on that short trip.
First, the obvious one: the environment. Driving up through Harlem, the only way the surrounding area could be deemed livable is if Mr. McDonald was a venture capitalist who used the drive-thru to give away hundred dollar bills and full-body massages.
Second, the community (or lack thereof). A woman sat next to me. She was a younger African-American lady, and I tried to make conversation. After grunting a response that could have easily been mistaken for a growl, she put her head down and put on her Ipod----my eager smile was nothing but an annoyance. And while my facial contortions that are meant to show happiness could be construed as aggressive teeth-baring by an ugly chihuahua that thinks it recognizes the expression from its own species, I think she knew I had nothing but the purest of intentions. She just didn't give a shit.
So I flew down to Duke with New York City in my soul. What I learned this weekend in Durham is that any cynicality about humans and nature that I constantly fear may permeate my personality from life in NYC can be exorcised with a southern smile and a blooming apple tree. I loved Duke Law----but not only did I love the academic opportunities of the school, I loved the people, places, and things that make up the law school community.
It was beautiful----I will post pictures later this weekend of the school and the forests that could motivate an annoyingly catchy James Blunt song. But most importantly, people cared. Waiting for a new friend outside Cameron Indoor Stadium, I sat next to another woman. She was a younger African-American lady, and I tried to make conversation. After smiling broadly and touching my arm, she happily spoke in a soft drawl that could thaw the coldest of personalities. She gave a shit.