In the night I walked aimlessly through abandoned city streets. On spring. On Crosby. On Bowery too. The streets were empty and beautiful. It was on Canal that it hit me. It just hit me. In that very moment, New York felt like the New York I once knew. It was, without a doubt, my New York. You’ll hear this on occasion, everyone has their own New York. To any one person, New York evokes several different intimacies. Often, I find myself discussing a certain intersection, block, restaurant or cafe, and each friend has a different story. A story that has shaped them in some way. A story that defined their New York.
For a while, I had put my own stories of New York away. I had tucked them deep down in the comforted section of “What I Once Knew.” I let the visions of his New York and her New York and their New York, define how I felt about my New York. I allowed all of it to second guess my memories – deeming them not fascinating enough. They stayed there for some time. But on this particular walk, on this serene night, they’d had enough and stormed their way through the doors that enclosed them for far too long.
My feet led me down paths once forgotten: Turnstile hopin’, drunken night dancing, and inconsolable bouts of laughter with dear ones. In the midnight, those corners told me stories. My stories. They were alive once again. Without a stroller, a husband, and no real place to be, I let all of it consume me. Everything felt so real. Every memory felt tangible and every emotion felt true. Somehow, witnessing the city in that raw way again opened me right up.
At midnight, when the memories started to make their exit, I noticed the way the city reeked of dreams. The night’s air was thick with ideas – all hitting me at once. I sat on a stoop under a flickering light, taking notes. I wrote whatever came to me; incomplete sentences and words that weren’t actual words exited my gnawed pen that night. Ideas and intentions and other bits that had also been tucked away made their exit too.
Have you ever seen New York City at Midnight? She’ll do somethin’ to ya.
Image: (1965 Joel Meyerowitz)