Today I'm a bit type-weary from other projects, so I'm posting a handwritten poetic ode to New York I found at the back of my computer desk drawer, written in the September of 2018.
Reading it to myself gave me so many feelings--I imagine life in New York is unfathomably different today from what I used to know. In LA we have sunny days and people already social distanced a lot of the time. In New York, tourists, Wall Street suits, and celebrities all hike doggedly through the puddles and grit. Everyone brushes past a thousand strangers in a single day.
Since COVID-19 spread unabated between so many, my heart has been with New Yorkers. I know more people there who caught the virus than anywhere else. It was only by a hair, I'm sure, that I visited almost every neighborhood and airport in New York City across two trips in February and March, and still managed to come back unscathed by this monstrous, underestimated sickness.
So I'm posting this as a tribute to 'the old' New York, a courageous and battered symbol for the world we used to know.
The rain nestles in my socks
Blackens the toes of my white LA kicks.
A thousand more interactions
With strangers. Everywhere are men and
Women, locking eyes with me.
A man stares through the window of
Some BBQ joint in the Lower East.
His shirt decisively pressed. He look
Like a good cologne smells.
Locks eyes with me in my tattered forest hoodie,
Trudging through the rain.
We live a lifetime together
In a 10 second glance through the passing glass.
A beautiful girl in the train
Steals my eyes for a few stops.
I give a curious acknowledgement
Before the screech of our separate journey
Rings in the rails.
In the months before I left New York
I ignored most things.
Protected my heart from such glances,
Refused to see the worn gutters,
Abandoned paper trash romantically adrift,
Faces that might ask me something.
Looking out only to get my bearings.
But I arrive again, a child given a new life,
After growing old in the last one.
I am fresh, alive, naive.
I feel the promise
Of anything and all.
A routine in New York is a mere background
To colorful chance.
Every day holds a hundred glances,
Gifted and stolen, prized and ignored.
Lifetimes of possibility
In one ride on a downtown 4 from the Bronx.
In one curdled coffee in Chelsea.
I sleep through my class,
Whistle through the day,
Retreat to a film
In a hundred year old theatre,
Buy some new socks, and waterproof boots.
Listen in on 12 conversations, and
Start a few of my own,
Eat delicate udon in a closet-size eatery,
Tucked past an unmarked door. Cash only.
Every New York floor creaks.
Every day coordinates crossing trains and restroom strategy.
There must be two or three ghosts
In every room, and more in the streets.
I like my tree canopied Cali apartment,
My clean, private car pod where I sing my cares away.
I like actual ripe tomatoes,
And whimsical drives down the PCH.
But whenever I'm looking
For something to happen
For opportunity to find me
For some swift connection
In only a passing glance,
I'll know where to touch down,
And I'll wear better shoes.