Love will make you do crazy things.
I was gliding across the Brooklyn Bridge last weekend on my friend’s shitty bicycle when I realized my 14-year-old sister was nowhere in sight. Amid a sea of fanny pack-wearers—of both the hipster and Midwestern variety—I spotted her, leagues behind me, walking my bike and looking cold, miserable, and winded.
Here’s what a good sister would have done at that point: She would’ve walked “Babs”—my sister’s nickname—back to Manhattan, bought her a hot cocoa, and taken her to Topshop or some other teenage girl nirvana. This was, after all, the first and most likely the last time my parents had sent her to visit me. I adore her, and she deserved a nice weekend.
Here’s what I actually did: I circled back, biked alongside her and urged her on, making “Arrested Development” chicken dance noises.
Babs was dehydrated and pissed and didn’t really know how to ride a bike on an empty boardwalk back home in California, much less on the Brooklyn Bridge, which was packed with tourists who meandered as if they’d never seen a bike lane before. Koo koo ka chaaa!
Dragging my loved ones to places they don’t really want to go is an unfortunate character flaw of mine. It’s only gotten worse in New York City, where having an awesome adventure is as easy as getting lost and sampling goat meat at a neighborhood bodega.
When we got to the center of the Brooklyn Bridge I told my sister to turn around and grandiosely said, “This is New York.” She mumbled, “Pretty,” and stuck her frosty red nose in her BlackBerry, likely telling some boy back home how much she despised me at that very moment.
Chipper and oblivious to her suffering, I told Babs that we were almost at the Brooklyn flea market (give or take two miles), where I’m sure she could only imagine the awesome kitten-detailed teacups that lay in wait.
Seeing Babs’ look of utter disdain and protest brought me back to a blistering day in July when I encouraged (read: forced) a certain
Spectator editor-in-chief to come with me to Chelsea to find “the best rhubarb-plum popsicle you’ll ever have in your whole life.” It was over 100 degrees that day, neither of us had eaten anything, and I had no idea where to actually find these popsicles.
I wound up dragging this editor-in-chief 15 blocks atop the High Line through Disney World-esque crowds of sweaty, sweaty people and blinding sunshine. As I turned around to insist cheerfully that we were mere feet away from refreshments, she gave me a look of dehydrated loathing so powerful it would’ve stopped any sane person dead in their tracks.
I knew then that I should’ve let my friend get a sandwich at some corner deli that day, just like I knew last weekend that I should’ve just dropped the crusade of quirk and taken my sister to the Forever 21 in Times Square.
But even when the people I love are pleading with me with their sad, withering eyes, it’s nearly impossible to throw myself off the hunt for whatever it is I think we’re looking for.
Often a person can feel so frantically in love with this city it defies reason. And sometimes even basic sisterly empathy.
Leah Greenbaum is a Columbia College senior majoring in English. Slouching Towards Somewhere runs alternate Fridays.