Crazy from an afternoon spent hunkered down in my apartment, I take a ride around the neighborhood, wet and newly cleaned. I make my way down to an empty concrete park with basketball courts, a baseball diamond, and some caged area likely for handball, though I don’t know if that’s a game that children play any longer.
Puddles stand still in lake shapes, reflecting back Brooklyn trees and the Manhattan skyline and the sky turns purple and pink within its grayness just for a moment, a singular effort on behalf of the sun to say goodbye as it leaves, though it is really us turning away, I suppose.
A man comes to play his dog while I ride around in circles, like when I first learned how to bike as a child, half my height and naturally blonde. Around and around and around I went on an asphalt loop – a moat of black surrounding sea grass and a few trash bins – unattached to the training wheels I had become used to, aware of my wobbliness, enthralled by the possibilities of success and failure.
I ride away and down the street and I find a pier and I ride down that, too. Couples sit on green metal benches, talking, leaning, kissing, enamored with their own affection. Old men who have long given up on charming women stand side-by-side, talking pointedly in a foreign language. Some young boy in a uniform of black picks at a guitar, the breeze sweeps my hair lovingly in front of my face, and all of a sudden I am in my very own Woody Allen movie – a romanticized version of reality that doesn’t exist, though tonight it does.
The wood on the pier is damp. I sit down in my shorts, my bike leaning on the fence in front of me, Manhattan beyond that. Sometimes it feels as though I’m staring at nothing – some beautiful Hollywood backdrop with painted-in lights and a fog machine, too wonderful to comprehend, too vast in scope. A city built, brick by brick, light by light, not at all at once but over time. The overwhelming achievements of man all crammed into one tiny island.
The boy finishes, puts his guitar in his case, and then walks away – with no fanfare, no clapping – and the pier becomes so silent all you can hear is the water lapping at the crumbling shore and the sound of hushed conversations built for two. Manhattan stands there, big and seemingly silent, belying the frantic buzzing inside of it, a beehive with a concrete shell.