New York

Wide, deep streets. Rich color. Silver, grey, tiny shops, lines out restaurant doors. Murmuring underground trains, hustle, people flowing like water. French speakers, Spanish speakers, frustrated voices on the phone, small dogs walking small circles in small squares of grass. Central Park: no identical bridges, squatty pine trees, maples, elms, running and biking, the sound of a waterfall, the stink of horses, no identical lakes. Joel Pafford who knew everyone who worked at the Italian restaurant and told us that New Yorkers are extremely tied to small localities. Flashing lights in Times Square-not-a-square. Falafel and hot dog vendors, the smell of food, the smell of trash, the smell of sweat, smoke, coffee. Calf-length trench coats, yellow cars, black cars. Blue bikes. Hissing of buses and of steam coming up through fat orange pipes that loom in the middle of the street and are fenced off with plastic. Bagels with cream cheese. Repaired tenements, gilt condos, windows, occasionally bay windows. Steel bridges stretching like neural dendrites between Manhattan and the other islands. A secluded community garden near the wharf. Children walking unaccompanied and unafraid. A snaking line to get in the Met, gentle rain. Umbrellas, dogs wearing shoes, Lincoln Center all gold in the dark. A man organizing pumpkins in a Greenwich Village shop window, delivery men climbing in and out of basements. A hazy and distant Statue of Liberty looking tiny and kind. Lindens in far north Ft Tyron park, Robert Moses’s visible or invisible stamp on everything. Construction noise and scaffolding, car horns, maple leaves clicking together overhead and crunching underfoot, out-of-tune carousel, cellist on the Highline, boy choir at St Thomas. Suited business people, tourists with iPhone cameras out. Amy’s Bread: narrow and bustling. A New Yorker bag slung over a shoulder. Making walking into a dance: darting through crowds, shifting my shoulders, shaping my body to the narrow breaks that open before me.


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