A short memory of a walk I took…set to the song that matches it best.
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The daylight, already scant in the start of winter, retreated quickly tonight; the setting sun streaked the skyline in somewhat rough-looking horizontal brush-strokes of oranges, purples and shades of gold. It could’ve been depressing, if the temperature is considered; it is December and bitter cold. The city’s high-rises had a way of channeling the wind so that it would gust stronger if I walked in a particular neighborhood.
This was such a night and yet, there I was, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge in my favorite winter coat, my scarf wrapped twice around, my satin gloves worn more for their classic style than sustenance. Where was I walking? Anywhere. It was hardly relevant, but tonight is the night for a city walk. It is needed, for the lack of better words.
I tucked under the bridge and ascended the steps onto the walkway, concrete at first and wooden slats for the greater part. The bridge is historic and for a moment, I cannot help but wonder what it was like back when this bridge was newly built. Who walked across it, towards the same cityscape I am walking towards now? What did the skyline look back then? Although history books may answer me on this one, it still wouldn’t capture the picture as seeing it as is.
But the time for that is past.
The night gathered in full now; the sky is a clean, deep cobalt blue that is almost black, awash with the few stars that are visible from this part of the hemisphere. Some lights are moving and that is how I know that they are wing lights from an airplane passing overhead.
For the briefest of moments, I wish that I were aboard that plane on this gorgeous night and able to see the stars from above the cloud levels.
My attention turns to the cityscape in front of me, awash in the lights of its skyscrapers. The cold wind gusts against me and briefly lifts up the folds of my coat as I walk down the sloping ramp and into the Manhattan side of town. It is bitter cold but the bite of the wind dies down as I keep moving. The lights twinkle ahead in their silent invitation and I pick up my pace, eager to accept.
The city calls to me tonight, its magnetic beauty unmarred by the bleak forecast and promise of a snowstorm. Its call is simple: come see what is out here. The cold can be abated by a simple cup of hot coffee; the larger and stronger it is, the better. The cashier at Starbucks knows me and upsizes my drink to a venti, as though she knows what I need.
I am alone tonight.
Alone, but never lonely. The city is my date tonight and I take it up on its offer and take my favorite beaten path to walk, up Broadway. I don’t notice how fast my feet carry me, but I zone out to the rhythm of the people milling around me, tourists laughing with delight as they notice the lights of the Woolworth Building. I am walking past them and walk away. And almost on reflex, my pace picks up; faster than what I normally walk, which is already an impressive clip.
I don’t notice myself make it into Gramercy and I shift my route; I walk up Madison Avenue instead.
Ahead of me, the Empire State Building is awash in color and just as I am about to make the turn to approach it, the snow begins to fall. Fat, thick clusters swirl around the bright streetlamps and backlit store signs and, almost on cue, the wind stops with its sharp, sudden gusts. It is gentler now, as though the weather feels no need to torment the passerby with its chill when there is a snowstorm in the making.
I pause at the intersection of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue and stretch out my hand, encased in black satin, to see the snow. A few thick clusters fall on my warm hand and melt, the drops aloft on the smooth fabric. For a while, I stay still and let the wind pick up again to surround me with a snowy tapestry. My eyes drift shut and I absorb the night – the traffic noises, the echo of a song from Herald Square not far away, the bite of the winter chill despite my warm coat and the smoothness of the satin around each hand.