We’re sitting in the park, basking in the last rays of sun, when you ask me if I ever think about how we are just two people laying on the edge of a rock, looking out at other rocks. Like the illustrations in The Little Prince, I think, suddenly imagining us huge when compared to our small, blue planet.
But New York has not been feeling small lately. It’s been feeling vast, the way it does when it gets cold and everything and everyone feels too far away. It’s been feeling mammoth, especially when looking at the street closures for the marathon route and realizing just how far Staten Island is from the Bronx. It’s been feeling like I’ve been here a long time.
It’s almost enough to make you want to give up, walking home with grocery bags almost ripping and having to call my husband to come meet me at the subway stop with alternate bags so our overpriced groceries don’t go cascading all over the sidewalk, pomegranates rolling dangerously by pedestrian feet. It would almost be a comical catastrophe if I wasn’t exhausted, a book bag full of ungraded papers on my back, my receipt for gluten free pumpkin bread now flying into the sunset. Also, my hands are freezing because I forgot gloves and to be honest I don’t even know where they are. (This is a result of the way we squirrel things away in our tiny apartment.)
At home, we put away the groceries, grab the pumpkin bread, and go to a party where I carve a constellation into the same squash. It’s not perfect, but we can’t see the stars here so it will have to do.
Later, we wake up at 3 a.m. because we can hear the neighbors’ music playing loudly through the walls. I know the girl who lives next door’s name is Bria and I have her number, but I feel bad texting “turn it down” because she was recently broken into and robbed, and it’s hard to be upset at someone you saw cry just last week. But the whole building came together to demand better locks from the landlords, and even Bria laughed when she realized the robbers didn’t take her Louboutins (“They idiots!”) The gay couple on the forth floor called the police and the girl who works from home on the second floor brought her down a beer. It’s almost enough to make you believe again. So we just turn the fan on high to mask the music.
The next morning I get a text from Bria that says “SO SORRY.” And I’m glad I didn’t say anything because I don’t want to be that narrow-minded adult, consumed with my own self-importance. Those characters are always the antagonists. (Just ask Antoine de Saint-Exupery.)
We need a break from going to bars on weekends, so we spend Sunday at the Guggenheim. From the windows in the cafe on the third rotunda we can see the marathoners.
While watching the runners, I wonder if the Verrazzano Narrows bridge is getting tired of our complaints, the harsh honking of horns and the swearing at traffic. I wonder if it sings when the marathon closes it down for a day. I wonder if it appreciates the change of pace, if the beating of pedestrian feet is preferable to the fender benders.
There are over 50,000 of them running and it is getting dark and many are still running. And on the sidelines, strangers they’ve never met are still cheering for them. It’s enough to make you believe again. And so when people I don’t know come up to the windows of the museum café and say, “I can’t believe they are still going,” I say, “I can.”
Caroline (Higgins) Nyczak (’11) lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends the vast majority of her time teaching English Language Arts. You may also find her at barre exercise classes or playing (and losing) at bar trivia. She continues to be inspired by the energy and diversity of New York City and the beauty of that certain slant of light.