I have a lot of food-related things I want to share on this blog but not today. Because today was bigger than food. Fall is setting in and today was the first day since I’ve been here that I didn’t feel like I was melting or suffocating down on the subway platforms. The air had a beautiful briskness to it that’s distinctly attributed to fall. Simply put, it was gorgeous.
It was one of those days that reminded me to still have faith in humanity. New York City is one of the most humane places I have ever seen. All around, for good or for bad, it’s saturated with humanity and it’s these little moments—these glimmers, that remind you we’re all beating, feeling hearts—from the man with a swollen leg that stops after the knee, the couple having an emotional fight on the street, the wife crying outside on the bench, being comforted by her husband, the little girl stepping outside along with her grandma and a happy skip, the cashier who asks you how your day was with the utmost genuine nature or the bubbly sales girl, who even though it’s 10 minutes past close and surely her feet hurt and she’s ready to go home, still has the biggest smile on her face and makes pleasant, sincere small talk with you. I have seen all of these people today. and two days ago. and a month ago. And it’s why I love New York. Because it can be terribly brazen and obtrusive and it can reveal things to you that make you want to cry or kick something because of the injustice in this world. But it can also reveal so many surprising, happy and serendipitous moments that make you smile to yourself or laugh out loud or feel glad you are alive.
I love the diversity here; how there seems to be a community for everyone of every kind. Every day, I’m surrounded by this collage of cultures; particularly on weekends because I meet a lot of taxi drivers (for my job). I work at the Brooklyn Flea (Fort Greene on Saturdays, Williamsburg on Sundays), representing http://commercerestaurant.com, selling savory and sweet baked goods. It’s a really fun gig—I like chatting with all the regular vendors and customers (and I’m constantly meeting people from all over the world). Part of the gig involves taking a taxi from the restaurant (in the west village), over to Brooklyn and back at the end of each day. In doing this, I’ve met drivers from Pakistan and Bangladesh who were lawyers or teachers back home but still, they came to New York in hopes of a better, more fortuitous life. There’s one in particular that I’ve come to know—a Hatian man with a big family and a big smile, who goes by “Peter.” I use quotes because I don’t know what his actual name is but I don’t think it’s Peter. He’s incredibly nice and I enjoy getting to talk with him about New York and politics and I always give him leftover breads.
This morning I had my first female cab driver and she was such a joy to talk to. Her name was Clarissa and she’s a Manhattan-born cellist (probably in her mid 60s now), who spent several years performing in touring Broadway shows and big orchestras. She doesn’t play as many gigs now (but not because she can’t, she reminds me), just because it’s tough since she’s older and things are more expensive and competitive.
I also met a man named Albert, while working at the Brooklyn Brewery today (a nice change from doing the usual Sunday Williamsburg market). He was probably in his early to mid 40s and said he had lost his wife a couple years ago. He had his nine year-old rescue dog poodle with him who was wandering all around the brewery (off leash) and he (Albert) was a little high-strung but I could tell he was lonely and just wanted someone to talk to or listen to, some form of human contact. So I talked to him, even though ordinarily I probably would have tried to avoid him. And I’d like to think his day was a little bit better because of it. I know mine was.
Thank you New York, for giving me today. I’m sure I’ll spurn your name when I’m in a hurry tomorrow and the train seems to be taking 10 years and then it’s too crowded and there’s nowhere to sit or I’m stuck walking behind someone who’s walking at a glacial pace. But…it’s okay. Because I know I’ll have more days like today. There is no place like this place.