We leave the crowded, trendy Lower East Side hood, where everyone knows every one of the city’s groovy secret groves except us. We cease our aimless wandering and finally find the F train.*
An hour later, we disentangle ourselves from the 1’s tightly packed elevator car at 191st St. and cut off to the right, past the crowded corners of late night fun-seekers blasting bumpin’ house music. We’re jonesing for a snack so we duck into a bodega.
We order grilled cheese sandwiches and I try to avoid contact with the teen boys I swear are intentionally bumping into me. They decide to cut us in line, then harangue the cashier for not carrying whatever candy bar they’ve decided they want. I cross my arms and stand in the corner, trying to look annoyed but well aware I’m coming off as childish. A few tense moments pass, until finally, and the crew parades out into the night. We give flash the cashier an empathetic smile and tip him a few extra bucks before meekly heading out into bustling sidewalk. We sideline over to our quiet little street, holding hands and taking it all in.
An older lady stands at the door with a soft smile. She seems like she’s waiting to let us in. She pushes the door open more widely and invites us into the building.
Two boys join us on the elevator. Jim compliments the taller kid on his nice pair of kicks. We all smile. They start joking with one another, then thank us on for no particular reason on their way out.
We fiddle with the door and nudge it open to find our doofy-faced, tail-wagging dog “Big Papi” — that’s what the neighbors call him. The music from the outdoor activity is still pushing through our wide-open windows but we don’t mind, especially now that we’re home. We know it’ll die down in an hour or two. We make our way back to the bedroom and the sound begins to deaden. We slide into our PJs and welcome Vin up onto the bed.
We flip on the latest “Breaking Bad” and settle into the noise that surrounds us, taking it in and then letting it go.
This is my New York. It’s sometimes uncomfortable and can be loud at times, but is always bubbling over with life. And all at once, it’s an honest and personable and interesting and comforting place to be. This is my New York, one month in.
*A quick fact that’s important to note: This series of events more or less took place over the course of the last month, not just in one night, as the piece may lead you to believe. Trying to be more playful with chronology in an effort to start to wade into the world of fiction.