I’ve been living in New York City almost ten years. I spent my first four years living in Queens, in a not-popular or well known neighborhood unless you’re a Queens native. I’ve spent my next near six living in the Upper East Side, and now on the border of Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper West Side. I’ve visited all five boroughs repeatedly, but somehow, I’ve never quite made it up to Westchester County. As far as I am concerned, anything north of the Bronx is “upstate.” I never really. had a reason to go to Westchester County. It’s not like I have friends who have parents who have invited me to their homes. So it wasn’t until today that I finally made it there for a customer visit in White Plains, which is about a 45-minute car ride from the Upper West Side, or 1.5 hours in traffic.
I had a customer meeting up there, which ended with a visit to my customer’s manager’s office. He’s the chief digital officer of this organization. We made some small talk, and I quickly realized he was a born and bred Westchester County boy who had pretty much never lived outside of this area before. He was shocked to hear that I’d never set foot in Westchester all this time.
“You’ve never been here… even once?” he said this repeatedly to me.
This reminded me of Trevor Noah’s comedy clip, during which he gets annoyed and makes fun of his friend for giving him such a hard time when he first moved to the U.S., and his friend just cannot fathom that he’d never had a single taco in his entire life. “How is it possible for you to have a completely different life experience than I do?” He half-joked.
There’s nothing really in Westchester County that would draw me up there. And in my short time there, I realized why: I was the only person of color everywhere I went. It was as though I was the diversity up there for my visit. And that didn’t sit well with me.