Intimacy at the center of the world

This is my brother

NYC is crawling with people doing all kinds of things–couples are breaking up on the street, smokers are huddling in doorways catching one last drag on a cigarette, UPS and FedEx dudes are pushing wheely dollies piled precariously sky-high with boxes, models are teetering on toothpick legs on stiletto heels, businessmen are in camel hair topcoats headed downtown, tourists are in ski jackets ambling down the avenues, restaurant delivery men are balancing meals in plastic bags on handlebars, their own hands wrapped in plastic bags against the cold, people are walking their dogs…the list goes on.

Meanwhile, the high rises create wind tunnels down the street–the wind gets stronger as you get closer to the Hudson on the east-west streets. The buildings are so high, you snap your head all the way back, and you still can’t see where they end from down below. I live in a high floor of my (current) apartment building, high enough to see most downtown rooftops. Just the other day, I spotted a hawk on a neighboring rooftop, hanging out, as I was, enjoying the view, as I was.

Leave it to me to spot some nature in downtown Manhattan. I like the nature. (p.s. we spotted our 4th rat the other day–in the East Village, on 2nd avenue. It was dead, but still, it was rat #4).

It’s a city that can make you feel real small, though I’ve been feeling pretty amazing since I’ve arrived, even when I had to pick up my car from the tow yard, where in the intake window, the meanest people in the world work. But no harm no foul, I just sat down and smiled, because I was in freaking New York City! One dude looked at me, and said, “Glad you have something to smile about.”

And I looked back at him, and said, “Might as well smile. It already sucks that my car got towed! Why make it suckier?”

He looked at me as if I was insane. Because as you know, New Yorkers don’t really laugh. Bwahahahaha.

I guess there’s more than a little bit of California in me–while in California, I’m a tense, impatient person with more than a touch of New Yorker….in New York City, I’m laid back. Who knew?

Also, I got my car back faster than anyone else. Because the Mean People purposely made the angry people wait longer.

9 million people in NYC. I’m one.

I’m one person coming home from the Junot Díaz reading the other night on a downtown train…and then I look up from my crackberry: and there’s my brother, right in front of me. In an H&R Block advertisement.

I got up, and asked people’s pardon–could I take a picture of that ad? It’s my brother! (He didn’t know he was appearing in this advert, and thus I was completely astonished, as was he). They obliged with visible amusement. He’d been anonymous to them before, anonymous to millions of New Yorkers. Now there was connection.

I wouldn’t have run into that advertisement anywhere else. It took a place filled with people to see this ad. And that’s a lot of why I’m here.

there's my bro AGAIN

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5 Comments

Filed under New York City

5 responses to “Intimacy at the center of the world

  1. Lovely! Makes me want to move to NYC, actually.

  2. I am surprised the rat count is only up to four. Have you seen any on the subway yet? I hear they get around paying their fares pretty easily.

  3. Nate

    Your story is a reminder that our roles are always a function of the people around us, no matter who we think we “are”. Thus the value of life experience, travel, diversity, etc. I mean, just imagine being stuck in that booth at the impound– not just with NYers all day, but with really pissed-off NYers all day– God, how would any of us end up being after exposure to that all-day every day? You were probably their best customer ever, probably discussed in the breakroom over bad coffee.

    (At least half of) your brother is so handsome!

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