So I had a long holiday weekend, and I took full advantage.
Having wanted to go to the city, I made my way - by plane, train and automobile, save the plane part. I hate those. Thank God it doesn't take one of those to get there.
But everyone from this hellish frozen metropol-is-not goes there this time of year, the only really difference being when we choose to go, or where we spend our time, or which train we take. We go, if for nothing else, to see the people swarm in the streets, like some thousands of sperm on a festive petri dish, tails swishing from side to side, flitting as if flitting was all that mattered. I can't decide if the people are my favorite part, or if it's the form of the buildings and their outline against the sky. Maybe it's something entirely different - a combination of those things along with some hallucinogenic gas pumped up from the grates you step over every few feet.
The holidays seem to make people jolly. Remind them to love. To notice red and green with some seemingly new found appreciation. And they want to dance, and drink, and watch people take on the persona of someone else. Elphaba, or Fiona, or Sophie or some lanky leg-kicker. And the special thing about this place is the people. You somehow expect them to be too busy to be pleasant, to as a whole be too hardened with overexposure to extend common courtesies. And be sure, some of them smile and nod and speak only because it pays their bills, but others will share pieces of their personal stories if given the sign of interest. I think I could write a book were I given the time to hear enough of the nearly unlimited number of stories, told in accents of everywhere you can imagine.
Under the guise of going with friends, to not worry loved ones, I left for a moment of pure, unadulterated bliss, and walked the streets of another world, being careful to chalk up the vagrants, begging through their own cloud of $7 cigarette smoke for money and nothing more. It was once suggested they might actually stand and make money offering to take cutsie little photographs for the tourists standing in awe with their shiny new pink coolpix cameras, wishing some of their jpeg memories included them. I always wonder why they are where they are, and why they cannot change it.
In fact - that's part of the city you can barely drown out - the disparity between the lush park side condoites, the fashionable ritzy store patrons, and the others....those who comb the street for meagre opportunity. It's like having cancer along with an everlasting orgasm, you don't know which is more deserving of your attention, and which will notice your inability to cure either.
In any case - I was - if only for a moment - completely left to be me. To explore, enjoy, and to a certain extent, exploit my individuality. I had no plan, though I brought directions, if only to expedite my freedom from the confines of navigational unawares. I soaked in the glamour of the uptown windows and the quaintness of the faded paint on the signs of walls covered in brightly, sometimes artistic graffiti. Everywhere was old so ingenuisly blended with new, it was obvious there was no grand sceme to screw it up.
It was purely ingratiating, being there. I walked and walked, devouring the scent of life above the stench of a city with so many people that it must thrust them upwards to make room. I sat on the stone steps of a circular monument, soaking in the sun in one of the few places it hit directly, knowing I could be here forever, as long as forever wasn't too long. I paid my $16 for a glass of Cabernet I could drink a jumbo bottle of at home for under $20. I took chances with signals to walk, and dodged the drivers that wanted to play chicken, even though they had the advantage. Its possible I should get some life insurance before I go again.
And I came home drunk with the me I want to be. As I drove through the picturesque Norman Rockwell towns near home, I could feel the weight of normalcy laying itself back across my shoulders where it resides. A cat curled on a clanky, worn radiator in the middle of winter. But the streets were familiar. They didn't take thought, but they brought no surprises to demand a genuine smile.
I had been filled with the city. And still today I am tired with knowing it so well. I am sore from it bringing me so high, pumping me full of new feeling. I am thankful, even all these days later, that I can go again. I am reminded that life is full of possibilities, and that some of them should be recognized before they have passed in a cloud of smog, smug and Starbucks lattes.