My first time at apple seeds was quite an experience. It's always strange to go on interviews and know one of two things: that either a) you're never going to see this space and these people again or b) such innocent first encounters will only become more surreal, as new memories will further define the space if you end up working there. The front desk manger led me around the building: five classrooms downstairs, two upstairs, a boutique, a playground unlike anything I’d ever seen growing up in Vermont. Little people that only came up to my knees. Bright colors, a dull roar: it felt comfortable, yet wholly foreign. It was strange to be around that many kids.
The job, once I started, was pretty straightforward: check people in, answer phones, sell classes, take payments, and so on and so forth. It was a lovely antidote to the stress that accompanies other aspects of living in New York.
As time went on, and my comfort level increased, I began to seek out the more intangible or "heady" benefits of the job. One of things that struck me the most forcefully was what a micro-community this was. Getting to see the same faces every day made me feel connected with these relative strangers, even if just in a “what class are you going to?” kind of way. As I began to know the different kids and their caregivers, and as they got to know me, I felt a real sense of belonging. In a city of eight million, it is an intoxicating and heartwarming feeling to see the same faces every day. I may be just a front desk associate for these parents and caregivers, but nonetheless, I love them. I love them for giving me that small-town vibe that I so painfully miss from Vermont; I love them for saying hi to me on the sidewalks when I see them, making me feel like I belong in this neighborhood, this little corner of West 25th and Broadway by Madison Square Park.