Posted in A Moment in My Life

“A Siren is a Siren”

A Moment in My Life – Thursday, October 22, 2020

As weird as this may sound, but when I hear sirens, I smile and, for a moment, am transported back to New York City where sirens echoed between skyscrapers in harmony with the honking from drivers feeling cut off unjustly, and voices hollering, “Taxi!” This was everyday life in that big city—our first and only visit there. While most people collected ‘I Love NYC’ t-shirts, I captured the smell of diesel, the sound of sirens, and the hustle and bustle of people bustling about like on an ant trail. 

At the time, this robust city overwhelmed me. Still, many takeaways overshadowed the anxiety of life in a mainstream city, including the experience of being one of those ants on the ant trail. This wasn’t intentional. Timing had a lot to do with it. Mark and I were trying to locate the 9/11 Memorial when a stream of people swept us along, and next thing we knew, we were experiencing rush hour as we headed to the ferries with them. My naïve thought was, Wow, all these people going to the 9/11 Memorial, too? It didn’t feel right as we scurried through the underground tunnel that felt like it went on for miles. As I hustled along, I nervously asked my neighbor, “Where are we going?” and that’s when I learned these were people heading home during their evening commute. Not too many tourists can say that they experienced rush hour on foot first hand! 

San Francisco provides its unique big-city experiences, but nothing compares to life in New York City. Without having anything to compare to, I used to think San Francisco was a hectic overwhelming city. However, after having been to New York, San Francisco is tame, quiet, and lo-key. I see why some people move to NYC for the exciting daily living and nightlife. 

While I was there, I got annoyed with all the sirens, honking, and noise, so I was surprised when I heard a siren here at home that instead of remembering the annoyances, it reminded me of all those wonderful takeaways. New York City flashed before me like a slide show with their sights of old and new, the hot dog stands, the diversity of people, the last of the summer warmth, the narrow streets lined with garage bags with no smell, and of course, the famous Magnolia cupcakes. Ah, such delightful memories!

After the Sign Hill fire last Friday, I don’t think of New York City when I hear a siren anymore. I find myself cringing, and my heart flutters as my heart rate surges upward to the sound of the siren until it fades away. I am relieved that it’s not another nearby fire and praying that it’s not a fire for that matter and that it’s a false alarm.

I’m hoping that the next time I hear a siren, I’ll once again enjoy my fantastic NYC vacation slideshow all over again, but I have a feeling that it’ll take some time before I stop cringing at the sound of a siren. It’s incredible how different you can feel and what emotions a siren can invoke, reminding me that it is a very individual experience, but a siren is a siren.

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