A few weeks ago, I flew from the wide open spaces of Grand Junction, Colo., to New York, the city I now call home. Air traffic at LaGuardia airport had delayed my flight two hours and still the pilot had to circle several times before we received clearance to land. I was late, I was crabby, and I just wanted to be home. So you can imagine my frustration when I stepped out of the airport and into the muggy night to behold the scene below.

Cassandra Willyard

Yes, folks, that’s the taxi line. It snaked down the sidewalk and then doubled back on itself. The queue was so long I couldn’t see the turnaround point. I snapped a photo and posted it to Facebook. “Welcome back to the big apple, Cassie! Here’s your taxi line,” I wrote. Five [expletive] minutes in New York and already I was cursing and scowling.

LaGuardia is notorious for delays and lines, but there’s a deeper, more basic problem -- New York has too many people in too small a space.* It’s super dense. Fun fact: If you could convince the entire world to live like New Yorkers, you could pack all 7 billion of us into the state of Texas. That might be good for the environment, but what about our mental health?

New York is a 24/7 stress fest. Try muscling your way through the tourists packing Times Square or cramming yourself into an overstuffed train. I dare you to walk down Canal Street (home of knock-off Fendi, Prada, and Gucci) without wanting to knife someone. I’ve tried, and I can’t do it. And then there is the constant ear-splitting noise -- horns, sirens, animated cell phone conversations. The city is relentless.

Maybe I don’t have the right attitude -- the right constitution -- for New York. I’m impatient and short-tempered, and New York exacerbates those tendencies. But other New Yorkers seem impatient and short-tempered too. Is it us, or is it the city? Could urban living be harming our brains?