I’ve neglected the page like a chore, even a virus, when instead I should be scrawling text in torrents. I’m here, in New York City, a place of a million faces, a billion stories. They race like silver fish under a glassy sea. I can’t help but think they all move too fast to catch hold of a single one, to track and record, elucidate and bolster. The stream is too strong.
The city itself rides a fine line between grandeur and decay. The facades are old, as is the pavement, cobblestone walkways, stairwells and hydrants. They are all relics of an older time, America’s industrial heyday, when the land was carved with strong hands of rock and iron and steel. Ragged scaffolding betrays any sense of permanence, graffiti’d and billboard plastered, slowly dripping the melting snow in black lines.
But through it all, marching and flowing, faces and forms. People. New York is not iconic architecture or yellow cabs or grid carved avenues. New York is people, people of every permutation, every persuasion and profession.
As I shuffle the ragged asphalt, edges buffered with black slush and dogshit, their faces are caught, strobe light snapshots, whisked away. The young pony-tailed mother, clean featured, pushing the name brand plastic-wrapped stroller with off-road tires. The indyrock bike courier, ragged jeans pegged with 70s striped socks, pumping a duct-taped bmx between adrenaline gaps in metro buses and cabs. The nylon unisuit distance runners, breath misting in dusk-light jogs, silhouetted against the orange skyline, melding with stick finger trees. And the stripe-suited trader, lifted from slick GQ glossies, perma-tethered to some three hundred dollar communication gadget.
All of them live for an instant in my head, boldly puncturing the senses with their faces, their forms. Most are gone in moments, marching head down in focus, seeping into an ipod eyeglaze. But their ethereal transience is testament to their very existence. Driven. Fast. Alive. They swim with the current, scales flashing the dying light beneath the translucence. So many lives and so many stories.
Maybe I can catch just one.