I forget how much wandering is an integral part of my being. Our flight pushed back, my mother and I return to the just-packed-up Brooklyn apartment, rebuffed at the airport. We're going to miss Christmas, but neither of us seems to mind. We've had good dinners with family before, this thanksgiving in fact, and we're pretty sure it'll happen without us.
The brownstone on President St. undergoes a role reversal due to the 3 hour journey with baggage and all, it is now home rather than a place of departure. We've arrived, in-between time, and without priorities. The structureless-ness caused by this stolen freedom (because we shouldn't be here, really) unlocks the wanderer.
I head out into the bitter cold and begin to walk, headphones on. I walk until there is no more Brooklyn, along streets where black faces look into my solitary white one, rather than the scene I've grown used to. The music is good and I look deep into everyone's eyes on this cold street, I see more than a few friends in the multitude of strangers finishing their day.
I come to a point where I have to decide: take the Manhattan Bridge into Chinatown below Canal St or the Brooklyn Bridge to Civic Center. I begin to walk across the Manhattan, scuffing and scuttling over the ice. The sun is beginning to set, I follow the bridge's subtle parabola and take in the sheer weight of its industrial repetition.
The bridge, the night, the silence, the cold, it's all so beautiful. All the more so for the wrought iron, the caging in, the infinite depth of human experience that is New York juxtaposed with the ubiquitous authority of the cage. I like the fences, the turnstiles, the barriers, the routes of New York, because they physicalize the kind of melancholy that makes this city such an astonishing place. The people I pass on the bridge are few and far between, the occasional biker or man walking alone. Their eyes are cold, blasé, and guarded. Mine are not, they are ablaze, undefended, open. A characteristic that has flaws, to be sure, but I couldn't and wouldn't trade it. I am in awe of what I see from the bridge, in awe of the bleakness of the walk and the richness of experience. I love it, love that it isn't simple. I love the weight of the bridge with its army of ghostly riveters and the way it shakes from the volume of humanity passing over. I love the graffiti-soaked walls and film-noir streetlamps and how much these settings don't belong to me as a visitor, but I am powerless to recreate them in my own home town.
I look down into the Bladerunner-esque Chinatown below and imagine hurtling through gridlock on a bike, swimming in the barracaded humanity. It makes me smile and warm, though I am cold.
I grab some dim sum to warm up, the music's still good, and I walk back over the other bridge. It's slippery and covered with tourists.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
One NY Post, on the go...
Posted by Davey D at 6:27 PM
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