See, smell, touch, be in New York

November 8

The city assaults all of your senses – the smell of perspiration, people, piss, the sight of so many people, black, brown, white, yellow, blending in together like a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle, all the pieces are different but when you put them together, it’s just right. The skyscrapers, the lights, the hats, the boots, the people, the people, the people.

The sounds – of an off-key drunken man singing about change and the beat of drums in the dingy basement of a subway station, the trains chugging by every five minutes five miles away, the scattered group protesting against Israeli oppression… “Speak out against Israeli oppression…” yells a compassionate man into a loudspeaker, “You’re an asshole,” says a nearby pedestrian, “So are you, we’re both assholes,” the compassionate man replies compassionately, adding, “And you’re a fat asshole, at least I’m not fat.” You hear so many languages you forget which one is supposed to be the dominant one and the joy of catching a phrase in Punjabi as you walk past two brown men is incredible.

Feeling the edge of stairs as you scamper down steps, the rush of wind that blows hair off your face every time the train speeds into the station (“always makes me feel like I’m a heroine on a movie set!”), the elbows touched, the shoves received, the battle with Closing Doors. I found the whole “stay away from the Closing Doors” warning quite funny. Instead of thinking about the doors closing you imagine Closing Doors as an artifact that belongs in Harry Potter books/movies.

How many people would jump right into the middle of the Closing Doors for you? Not that many. I miss my person in New York and I especially miss the wild panicky determination on her face as she yelled at me to hurry up while holding the doors open for me like a tiny, female Tarzan.

New York is a great city, filthy, but amazing. 1 am and do you want fries with your nicotine? It gives multiculturalism a new dimension. I mean, it’s cool to see so many different people coexist but it’s even cooler to notice that you can’t really tell they’re different. One race/ethnicity/nationality doesn’t stand out because there’s many from all categories, who’s white, who’s black? Everybody gels in and you only stand out if you’re standing on your head in the middle of Union Square. It’s actually kind of easy to stand out there because people always seem to be expecting things to happen. They’re very likely to form a circle around anything remotely out of the ordinary, slightly kooky, the cameras will come out and people will just stand to watch and when people stand to watch, more and more join in and usually most of these people don’t really know what’s going on … but since there are people there, there must be something going on, right? Not.

Sigh. New York must be so conducive to insomnia.


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