As I Walk, We Spin

There’s a man at the 2nd Ave subway station who plays the blues on an old saxophone.

His notes are haunting as they bounce off white and blue tiles, echoing down empty train tunnels. Some of the high tones escape to the street above, but most of them remain trapped in their dark, dripping dungeon. He’s played the same music in the same spot for at least two years—but probably longer. 

“Medium coffee?”
“Yes, thanks,” I reply.

My barista of choice is working today. He knows exactly what I want, and leaves just the right amount of room for milk. We chat about the construction from the East Village explosion while I do my coffee choreography—splash, swirl, insert straw, sip. He says he’ll see me tomorrow; I tell him to enjoy the suddenly agreeable weather. 

New York smells earthy and fresh today, like a proper April. We don’t get a spring here like we did in Virginia—only two weeks of tulips, and then a steamy summer. But fluke days during this volatile season are, of course, welcome. 

I pass a homeless man outside of CVS, content to be silent in the sun. He usually hangs around the corner of 5th Street, waiting for spare change. His wheelchair is loaded with collected goodies, like the dingy version of Santa’s sleigh.

Then I see the dog walker with her parade of polite and well-groomed pets; there’s a Frenchie, some mutts, and usually one unidentifiable fluffy breed. It’s quite possible this woman’s salary is higher than mine.

As I walk, the city spins and spins. You can see people smiling at their phones, or crying to friends over watered-down mimosas. Beside me is a kid on a scooter, who will one day become a man with a motorcycle. In front of me is an older woman with tattoos and a cut up jean jacket, who could probably tell us salacious stories of an East Village past.  

The season is changing, and everything else morphs with it.
Time bleeds on, with or without our blessing.

But when life isn’t consistent, or perhaps when your mind is anxiously awaiting whatever is next, take comfort in the city’s cadence—the humming, whirring rhythm of productivity and bizarre normalcy. There’s an energy in the city that creeps out of our winter-worn bodies each “spring.” It hypnotizes us to crave new encounters, new ideas, new people—anything novel! That maddening desire for the new, new, new culminates with an explosion by late summer, only to leave us tired for the next season of snow. 

But we’re not there yet.
We’re only on the cusp of it all. 

The characters may change, yet the story remains the same.
And "so we beat on…” 

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
— from "The Great Gatsby"