When I landed at LaGuardia last night it didn’t feel like I was in New York. I expected it to be freezing, but the weather felt just like it did when I was in Atlanta. I strolled up to the taxi line because I had so many bags and then waited for my turn. The bus is less than three dollars and the taxi ride would be at least thirty. The price you pay for ease. The taxi driver hopped out of the cab and said, “you riding with me?” “Looks like it,” I said. “Lucky you!” He took my bags, but didn’t laugh. “So how was your holiday?” I asked cheerfully. He glanced up at his rearview mirror before replying, “what holiday? I had to fucking work.” It started feeling like New York. He didn’t look much older than I was, but I think he felt like a bully who had hurt a small child’s feelings. The rest of the ride he chatted incessantly as if to make up for how brash he had been earlier. He wanted to know where I was in school and what I was studying. “Oh really?” he said. “Communications? I was a reporter in Algeria.” “Nigeria?” “No AL-GER-IA!” I apologized for not being able to hear him, but really his radio was too loud and the cars honked too much. Another reminder that I was back. He looked into the rearview mirror again. It was like he was checking to see if I was still there. “Do you always sit there?” he asked. “Pardon?” This time it wasn’t the noise, it was his accent. “DO YOU ALWAYS SIT THERE? IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CAR?” I told him I did. He asked where I lived again. I asked where he had been going this whole time if he didn’t know where I lived. He had just forgotten the street was what he explained. I watched the meter creep up. “So are you glad you moved from ALGERIA?” I didn’t want him thinking I said Nigeria again, but maybe he said Armenia so I went soft on the middle part. “I like this country very much. I’m still new here.” I told him I was new in ways too. New to the city. If he was at all comforted by this I couldn’t tell. Then I said, “Hey! NEW York, NEW city, NEW year.” He was unamused. “Did you say 101st?” I was starting to get antsy. “Just drop me by Columbia.” “That school is fucking expensive.” “I was thinking this cab ride was too.” He did a half laugh and started driving slowly when he got to my street. I said I’d tell him when he got there, but he was still sticking his head out the window like a giraffe to read the numbers. His tip was triple what a bus fare would have been, but he was alright. His conversation wasn’t half bad, he might have been homesick, and plus he had had to work over the holidays. “Thanks. THANKS FOR MY TIP!” Gosh he yelled a lot. “Sure. From one communications person to the next.” It suddenly felt strange looking directly at him and not his reflection in the mirror. “Good luck with your studies and shit okay?” “Okay,” I said. I turned around to say something else-maybe another joke, but he was already gone. Yea, it felt like New York.