Archive for October, 2015|Monthly archive page

A City Manifesto:

In New York on October 7, 2015 at 10:29 pm

I must never make the mistake of believing that I actually live in New York. I mustn’t lie in bed in the morning killing hours as if I own them, brewing just another cup of tea and cracking just another egg without glancing through the window over grafitti-laced buildings and TV aerials to that art deco crown that like a needle, across the river, threads the sky.

I mustn’t imagine that frogs and beets and pieces of computer code also get to walk down 2nd Avenue, swinging boxes tied with string through bakery doors, walnut bread tight in their hands, melting between their teeth. Frogs and beets and pieces of computer code surely get up to some things, some days, but not this.

I mustn’t so pray to the volume on my phone that I forget that crazy men are singing! Right here in a car hurtling miles and miles per hour under ground for no reason other than that crazy men need a place to sing! Strollers need a place to be jostled, watches need a place to be glanced at, candy needs a place to be sold, seats need a place to be hogged, gossip needs a place to be caught up on, and shy minds need a place to so frequently, furtively, fleetingly fall in love.

I must never make the mistake of believing that I actually live in New York. I mustn’t walk by the hat shops and coffee bean shops and the square houses of warm light and liquid that might be called wine shops but should more appropriately, I believe, be called wine boxes, and believe that I know their secrets. The leaves fall and it’s autumn, the petals fall and it’s spring. Rooted to pavement, they see it every day, happening.

I might suppose that that patch of grass is a patch of grass under that tree, but I would be wrong. For the teenager it is weeknight freedom, for the baby it is a balance beam, for the shut-in it is a beacon, and it leads to the taco joint and the club and the ballerinas on canvas and the ballerinas on stage and the river and the highway. It is a synapse across billions of nerves firing into each other, though they’ve never even touched.

I mustn’t believe that I actually live in New York. If I did, I might forget that 66th and Broadway revels in song while yoga mats at St. Marks catch sweat beads while monkeys at Central Park West in that room past that dinosaur past that whale past that totem pole past that starry sky hold their pose, consummately, unflinching.

If I were to actually believe I live in New York, I might believe that I could know it, when in fact, the most I can do is meet it: the dirt, languages, siding, cigarettes, spires, applause, and afternoons. On the high-flyingest days, on the lowest meanest, I must never make the mistake of believing that I actually live in New York.

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