There are days when, after sitting put as the brilliant community manager I am, I simply need to get up and shake off the last few hours. I need to feel like I have moved my bones across this great city and taken advantage of this strange, 50-degree “winter” weather we’ve been having, eschewing the sluggish, Jabba the Hut feeling that plagues me when I sit for too long. Sunlight beams onto the building across the street and I begin to itch, like a dog who needs a walk. And as soon as I finish my hours for the day, I am off, headed toward Central Park with my camera at my side.
I think about nothing but the pursuit of concrete under my feet and the last few hours wither away slowly. I am moving again like I used to when I had my “real” job, to the subway and back twice a day at least, if I didn’t go out at night or if my boss didn’t have some wild errands for me to run around midtown (“Go to Chanel,” she said one day. And do what? “Nothing, just go.” Fine by me). I need to start using the main library as my workspace like I used to, since the train is, I think, over a mile walk from my house. I love walking around the city, rain or shine, snow or slush, because I love the hum it puts in my blood. It’s a hum that starts slow, but gets faster once it begins synching with the fast pace of the nameless and driven others around me.
And it’s funny, that even at 3pm on a Tuesday, the city still hums with life. Maybe quieter in my neighborhood than most, but a hum nonetheless. I walk up Fifth Avenue and the sun greets me at every intersection. I cross the street to be on the side of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Met as it’s known in these parts, and admire the wares (some faux and some not faux) of the merchants who have set themselves up on the cobbled path punctuated by the occasional tree leading up to the museum. Some of them sell Breakfast at Tiffany’s posters framed in black plastic they probably printed off the internet. One stands covered in colored dots behind canvases of small square faces he’s painted. A sign reading $50 that’s been scrawled with paint-doused fingers stands in front of him. I admire his gumption.
My next stop is the steps of the Met, those infamous steps where tourist upon tourist has sat and taken that signature picture. Their friend stands at the base of the steps and the subject sits in the middle for just the right angle where you get the widest expanse of the building behind you. As I sit there, at least four of said picture are taken, usually as the photographer stands in front of the USMC vet’s hot dog and pretzel truck. Sitting on the steps as non-tourist is less interesting because all you see are the backs of heads, so I move on.
Into Central Park I go, passing private school children and their parents as they make their way to the nearby playground. I swerve on a path I’ve never taken before and wind up at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. The sign for it is covered in bars like a jail cell and I can’t help but be saddened by the irony. My feet sink a bit into the mud created by snow that has since melted and my feet squish on the path. I sit on a bench nearby and schoolchildren go by with their parents. Tree branches are grey and deadened by winter, reaching out into the air like skeletons grasping for life. The sun is setting and I have to be getting home.