~ Thursday, July 29, 2004 ~
Two and a half more days, and I still don't believe I'm leaving New York. It's not as if I haven't had enough time to process the information--I *have* known since early June--it's just that I want to stay here so badly that I seem to have chosen not to believe I won't be. I am looking forward to starting school, of course--especially after registering for my classes (there's nothing like looking at classes and their descriptions on a bulletin to make me eager for the end of summer), but I wish I didn't have to leave, and that wish is so intense that I can't even visualize myself boarding the bus and heading to Philadephia. It's like trying to imagine walking into a strip club and applying for a job, in that I can try to put together a mental movie about it, but I don't honestly believe I'm ever going to do it.
I can't leave yet. It doesn't make sense. There's too much left to do here before I can go. I haven't bonded yet with Astor Place, or scoured all the vintage clothing stores north of 14th st., or gone to an all-night milonga at Triangulo, or been back to the Collective Unconscious to really explore and appreciate it (and it's too late now, anyway, because they're relocating). I haven't gotten to know Williamsburg yet. I never made it to the Sunday afternoon swing dance in Central Park. I never explored the fossil store on Columbus near 81st St. I didn't even go to the Met, for God's sake. Why did I let that happen?
All the infatuation that the city triggered in me when I first arrived hasn't faded in intensity, although it's shifted somewhat. I still love ambling through Central Park, but it doesn't seem quite so mysterious now, although it still holds just as much potential for surprise and delight. Times Square, with all its flashy lights and thronged sidewalks, is less breathtakingly impressive and more an annoying area to avoid walking through if I don't want to move down the sidewalk at the pace of a snail in a catsup bottle, but I kind of like knowing that I've gotten over the Wow Stage. The subway system doesn't seem quite as romantic as it did when I first arrived, but in exchange I know it a bit more. Still, I find it thrilling to be in stations I've never been in before and discovering their unique structure, antiquated tile mosaics, or accompanying works of art.
This city has an endless supply of offerings, only a tiny handful of which I have tasted. I am greedy, and want more before it slips out of reach. It isn't just unexperienced experiences, either; it's also people I've met here that I haven't had enough time to be with: Rob, of course, who is so intricately tied in my head to the essence of New York, with the essential frankness and intensity that they share, that at first I found it hard to separate them; Amy from Drisha, who has a sense of humor like a spring of clear cold water; Wendy, my fellow ringer of bell and the group that hovers around her at dances like fizz; Miss Amanda, with her glow of Charming Young Lady-ishness; and likewise Shana, who has less overt charm but more cityish sophistication; Talitha of the Inconquerable Spirit, who doesn't bother with sophistication, thank goodness, and who lives a few blocks north of me but belongs about 100 blocks south; and Dan, whose enthusiasm for this city comes not from being excited about its mysterious unchartedness, but from having personally explored almost every corner and loving all that he's found. (He ought to write his own guidebook someday.)
There is also a certain style of interaction that I have observed here, and I like it. People kibbitz. I have had many more brief conversational exchanges with total strangers here than anywhere else, except maybe airports. People have to go to much greater efforts to insulate themselves with books, newspapers, headphones, or scowls if they don't want to be spoken to by strangers. In general, the exchanges are wholesome, too. One night after dancing at Midsummer Night Swing, I went to Tavern on the Green with some Swing Accomplices (normally there's a cover charge, but it was late and so the Maitre d' let us in free after a little bit of negotiation) and one of the girls with us was wearing the sort of shoes that are lots of fun to wear for the first ten minutes, so since it had been several hours, she was in pain. One of the guys decided to carry her to the subway, across the park and a few blocks away, and she gleefully agreed and hopped into his arms. Out of Tavern on the Green we bounced, and one of the bums sitting on a darkish park bench remarked, "That place has great door prizes."
And then there is the way the city wears the seasons. I think I may have had my fill of Hot And Sticky, but I have *not* had enough of watching fireflies light up and wink at me in deliciously unpredictable patterns against the darkening green of the lawns, especially if it happens to be after hearing the New York Philharmonic play Sheherazade on the Great Lawn. I want to see Autumn on Central Park West again, with piles of leaves popping out from the dark grey hexagonal cobblestones, and shocks of brighter leaves popping out from the softer grey sky, and a ticklish wind sneaking in through the bottom of my coat and out through the sleeves. I want to spend another December evening admiring the bright crystal snow balanced on the filigreed wrought iron gates, reflecting colored Christmas lights from the houses nearby. (Who would have thought there was so much beauty to be found at the end of the R line?) I want to watch spring reveal itself in the Cherry Tree Esplanade in Brooklyn's Botanical Gardens, where all of a sudden everything is decked in shades of pink, and then I want to ride back to Manhattan and walk uptown looking at the windows on Madison Avenue, where all of a sudden everything is decked in shades of pink. One year is *not* long enough.
Current Music: Sheherazade, Rimsky-Korsakov
~ prattled by Miriam at 1:23 p.m. [+]
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