24 March 2007

Clever Medicine

I'm visiting my sister in New York City and thinking about thing that make me happy, things that cheer me up a little bit, since I've been so blue lately.

First off, and silly enough, is my new shampoo. You know how you catch sight of something out of the corner of your eye? I keep catching the scent of my new shampoo out of the corner of my nose, as my short blonde shag haircut blows across my face on windy days. What does it smell like? In a word, summer. Summers of my early childhood, before we worried about sunscreen and instead slathered Hawaiian Tropic #4 on our skin. Coconut, sunlight, the lake I talked about a couple of days ago, happier times.

Next is the latest Incubus album, Light Grenades. I'm currently really into the song "Dig", which is where the title for today's post comes from, a lyric. I don't even know what the heck the lead singer's name is, but MAN can that guy capture emotion. Raw, pure, punk and emo at the same time. Oh, the interweb is a wonderful thing. His name is Brandon Boyd, and I should have known that. Babysis has been into them forever. I'm also liking "Anna Molly" off that LP.

Visiting my middle sister in New York makes me pretty cheery too. And even though I've never lived here, as the train flashes by each stop, Nostrand Avenue, Franklin, reminding me of previous visits, I'm re-acclimated to this strange and wonderful environment where ten million people live, work, eat, breathe, die, every single day. Some of them never even leave this city that they know, love, hate.

I'm struck by the number of I love New York t-shirts I see---they can't all be tourists---and also the vulgar and hilarious "Fuck you, you fucking fuck" t-shirts, which make me laugh out loud every time I see one. And I've never seen them outside of NYC.

Too much has been written by better far better writers that I about this city, so I'll cease ruminating about something that I barely understand. But I am so glad to be here.

Once upon a time, I tried, mostly in vain, to explain to a college friend how I felt about working in a small city about 60 miles away from my hometown suburban hell. It isn't as large a city as the magnificent one I'm currently visiting, rather a small place of some 50,000 souls.

"I stand in the central plaza outside my office," I told him, "and I can close my eyes and feel the heartbeat of the city surrounding me."

He laughed, reminding me that I'm prone to ridiculous flights of fancy, and that my overactive imagination was clocking some overtime yet again. "The heartbeat of the city? What are you, a Chevy commercial?"

But I still feel that way about big cities. The experience is so different from my everyday white bread suburban life; the tide of humanity that I see on the streets so diverse, so interesting. I could people-watch all day here.

Coming out of the subway to meet my sister, I saw a woman so beautiful that I stopped, jaw dropped, to stare at her. She was a Muslim, headscarf wrapped around her hair, her eyes and cheekbones all the more prominent for that hiding of the hair. Her huge, dark eyes, lined underneath with a black eyeliner, her facial structure so stunning that I'm astonished she was real, not some magazine airbrushed creation. I realized I was staring and averted my eyes, but everywhere I look there is something to gawk at.

And if you listen closely, that heartbeat is there too. Beat. A car horn. Beat. Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, a polyglot of languages spoken all around you, swirling, invisible, but audible. Beat. Traffic. Beat. An airplane. Beat. Trains. Beat. My suitcase, dragged behind me, thundering over cracks in the sidewalk. Beat. The rain. Can you hear it?

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