Thursday, September 13, 2012

how normal

Oh New York.

New York.
New York.
New York.

What you do to me? This city is most definitely a relationship and a tumultuous one at that. And were it a man, I don't know if I'd put up with the abuse even if when it's good it's oh so good. But when it's bad, the tears and angst almost don't seem worth it. Almost. Until days like Monday. Ah Monday, who ever dreamed a Monday could be so blissful.

I was strolling through Brooklyn around mid-day, let's say high noon for affect, to return some books to the library and I see this family who looked like they just dropped in from a ball in Russia. I mean, the puff and splash of the vibrantly colored dresses, the suits, it wasn't even just show-stopping New York, it was show-stopping otherworldly. And the thing is, it seemed perfectly normal on a sunny Brooklyn street, near a fountain in the middle of an afternoon on a Monday. I couldn't help but ponder what on earth they were doing and where they were either coming from or going to, but other than that it was a couple appreciative glances from me and I was back on my way to the library.

Later as I rode the subway for an hour, making my way up to Astoria to meet with a very posh songwriter for my next Music Monday installment (look for it, gonna be good pals) at a very posh coffee shop, I people watched on the subway. An older gentleman sat next to me with a baby. The lil boy, a very happy tot, kept reaching his hands up for the subway handrail above his head and so, dad or what I soon ascertained to be grandpa as dad came over, let him up to swing on the bar like a wee acrobat, while holding his stomach. The child was obviously delighted with this and every time he was brought back down to grandpa's lap reached his hands back up to swing on the bar. I was as amused watching this as the baby was swinging back and forth. Then baby got transferred to dad's lap, which was closer to me and started looking for something new to entertain himself when he spotted me.
I of course beamed, as I love kids and he was a cutey this one. He gave me a large grin and then decided to show me a trick I gathered he had just learned. He slowly blinked, precisely and methodically as someone who has just learned to use their eyelids and wants to show you with great affect what a phenomenon it is. So he sat there slowly closing his eyelids, then springing them open with delight grinning largely, like do you see what I am capable of Ms? I couldn't help laughter. And the more I laughed, the more he laughed and then repeated the trick.
I find it so intriguing children riding the subway, just accepting this mode of travel as complete normalcy, swinging from subway rails, while I sat strapped into my carseat staring out a car window at that age, no acrobatics for me. Not only this, but I have to say, I see a lot of unusual business on a subway and like most New Yorkers, I have now gotten used to electric guitarists, singing trios, beggars, people dressed like Lady Gaga sitting across from me and hardly bat an eyelash anymore, but something about this laughing child continually doing his blinking trick waiting to get an enthusiastic response from me, delighted me more than anything else thus far on any subway ride. It was the best hour of public transportation I would say to date. Thanks kid.

Then as I sat avidly listening to my next musician wax poetic on life, lyrics, and writing I was positively wooed with this city, its people, places, faces, finds, coffee, energy... I felt utterly bowled over.

After the interview I wove down Broadway to meet up with a friend and stared at the twinkle lights in the trees, and it fit. Everything fit in a way that was as magical as seeing sparkling lights moving in the wind months before Christmas.
I had a pumpkin beer to celebrate the crisp sharpness of the air and the goosebumps dancing up my arm as we sat in the restaurant that opened to the outdoor patio.

My friend walked me to my train stop and waited on the platform with me, like a true gent and on the less exciting ride back, no bouncing baby entertainment, I still couldn't dismiss the pure poetry of a day of what felt like the abnormal, but for New York was perfectly in accordance with everyday life.

If this is everyday life: people dressed for the stage at all times of day, babies swinging on subway rails, coffee with songwriters, and drinks overlooking twinkly city lights, well, count me in. I am very keen on the new norm.

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