I’ve spent the past four days on the streets of New York. I’ve sat in gutters for hours waiting for time to pass. I’ve watched the city move and moved with the city. If a city’s streets are the veins distributing blood to the body, Manhattan is constantly sprinting. When they move, the people are impatient and agitated. They wait for no one, because no one will wait for them – they yell and beep and push as they pump as one.
It’s a grit that I’ve never experienced before.It’s like a grit that running for a long time produces. It’s a toughness, an endurance, and I love it. With the few encounters I’ve had, I love the people the city attracts, and the people it doesn’t break.
I hired a bike today and took on the streets. *No helmet might I add, but I figure the guy sitting on the back of a garbage truck smoking as it bounces down 7th Ave at 60 km/h isn’t wearing a seatbelt, so why would I need a helmet? At first I was a liability, and stuck to the bike lanes. But before I knew it I was tailing a local as he weaved and dinged his bell, and slapped taxi bonnets all the way down Broadway. By the time he pealed off to SoHo I feltlike I could fake the ‘attitude’ and survive. It was a frenzy of lane changing, squeezing between cars, dodging, cursing and peddling, but I felt like I was an infinitesimally small drop of blood in the system.
At one stage a fifty-year-old man in a brown plaid suit pulled out of one of the avenues onto a surprisingly clear Broadway. He was upright and pedalling his fixie effortlessly up the middle of the road in front of me. It was this point that I wish I had been able to stop my bike, (*sudden stopping almost certainly means sudden death) and snap him as he disappeared into the maze of yellow, because that’s the image i’ll see in my mind when I talk about New York.
It’s been a blur of unfamiliarity that’s slowly diluting to hints of understanding. It’s been just that, a maze of taxis, subways, bridges, basement bars ten floors underground and hidden brick music venues. I watched the sun come up from underneath the Brooklyn bridge, and the sun go down from the 92nd floor penthouse of Spencer St.
My only regret is I didn’t take enough photos, but for the first time I really did just get lost with no intention of missing anything by stopping. I also have a funny feeling it won’t be long before I’m back.