3:41 p.m. | 2001-04-22


I've just been having the most delightful laid back weekend. Just kinda meandering from Point A to B. Not thinking about work or bills or life or the general over-existential musings that I weigh myself down with each day. I've somehow molted the Camus of it all and have been walking at my own pace through the meat of New York City, ignoring the pedestrian traffic that I am fucking up by not keeping *the pace* and walking at the gait my mind sets for my body.

This is something that people all around the country are free to do, but we are not free to do in NYC.

In New York City, we walk to get somewhere. We have a limited amount of time to get from Point A to B. We have places to get to and people to meet, drinks to toss back and tapas to eat and a schedule. Overall, there is the schedule. A pace and a schedule to meet. A dress code, a pace and a schedule.

Before I came here, I took for granted laying about. Luxurious days with no plans. No anticipated calls. No checklists of errands. I just laid about. Rode my bike to the beach and laid about there. Drank cold beers for happy hour on a friends' porch and watched cars lazily motor by and children race their bicycles up the sidewalks and back down again. I supped when I felt like it and went out to bars when the mood struck. Or not. Or sat around with some friends smoking cigarettes and other things, talking. Or not.

When I slip back into this mode in the City, I take the time to think about all the people that live here. What their lives might be like...if they've loved and lost, if their love stuck...how they live, what they do. Sometimes I stare up at a lit window in an apartment building and I make up a whole life: a past, a present and a future for those strangers.

I used to do this as a child, for the people who take money at toll booths. Imagine them.

I still do this. I imagine them happy or sad, surrounded by family or alone, in dark apartments eating frozen microwave dinners and watching Wheel of Fortune. I imagine game shows to be the company of many lonely souls, these people fueling off of the faux excitement generated by glitzy game show prizes on rotating stages.

Game Shows depress me. I never watch them because of this.

New Yorkers get a bad rap for being rude. That's not what we are doing. We have schedules, you see. We do not have the luxury of personal time in our cars en route to work. We are crammed in with hundreds...thousands...of others at any time. We work in crowded, over populated buildings. We share elevators. Always. Everywhere. We live in crowded apartments - often small spaces we share with others. We move among strangers on crowded sidewalks. We eat in cramped spaces in filled-to-capacity-restuarants and we drink in packed bars. We accommodate other people every minute of our day. Everyday.

Our aisles in grocery stores are smaller. We wait in line for the treadmill at the gym. We commute together, we eat together, we launder together, hell - we even shit together. We breathe together. Sometimes if you stop on a sidewalk in the City you can feel and hear the collective breathing of New York City. Its residents' blood has such a tremendous collective pressure that we pump our lifelines into the concrete jungle that is this city. There is no "alone" time here. There is no personal time.

And so we compensate. We withdraw into ourselves during the times that we are not forced to be social. When not working or with friends, we raise the shield and encase ourselves into our beings as we move from Point A to B. If we seem hard or removed as we bustle down crowded streets, we are protecting ourselves. We are nuturing our humanity. It's there. Don't worry, we have it in case we need to use it again, but we are recharging it.

I forget sometimes, how different we are from the rest of the world. How we must appear to you all. And it's weekends like this, when I revert back to that person, when I remember what it's like for the rest of the world.

To walk exposed and open.

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