New York is hard, New York is expensive, lately New York is overheated, New York is a mad, mad, mad, mad world. And yet, New York City gives such gifts that…. who? One? That indeterminate someone that might be the writer, might be some exemplar? Or I? For the moment let’s say I.
New York City gives such gifts that I cannot leave her. I think about it. I think, what if I found a job that was just perfect and it required me moving to Oshkosh Bigosh. Or, gulp, Texas. Well, jobs aren’t everything. San Francisco, Vancouver, these are possibilities. Or what if I want a dog? I can never have a dog here, he’d be home alone too much of the time, I couldn’t handle the guilt, so it’s time for that little house in the country, that small house in a small town, quaint, picaresque, where all the natives surreptitiously stare at me with suspicion….Never mind.
But New York City. Walking New York City -- as my father instructed me is the only way to get to know a city, and being from Duluth, he’d done a lot of walking between there and here -- lifts my spirits, lightens the anger that follows me into the subway from my present job. Walking shows New York City’s neighborhoods -- the shopkeepers that put bowls of water outside their doors for the local dogs, people gathering at any outdoor space that even suggests seating, New Yorkers meeting and greeting, with and without plans. Walking in New York late at night and seeing artists still drawing passersby, vendors as entrepreneurs, these are the scenes of a home town that convinces one not to leave home.
And oh the people you’ll see, the places, the sounds, the smells. The music, the storytellers, the poets, the pipers, the people dressed oddly even for NYC, the food cooking on outdoor grills, the aromas deliberately piped out of restaurants onto the streets, a lone flute from somewhere, a few stories up, there, that open window. The classical guitarist in the alley and the saxophonists everywhere. Children laughing, children crying, people talking too loud, dogs barking, brakes squealing, tires tearing.
My favorites are the surprises. Walking along and bumping into my friend Jane on Park Avenue South, or Alexis on West Houston. Even more remarkable, going to a Broadway show and bumping into friends from the old neighborhood whom I hadn’t seen in thirty years.
Walking in New York, the perfect segue from the work week to the weekend. Try it sometime.
~ Molly Matera, signing off, putting on my walking shoes.