October 25, 2006
I am recently reminded of Vivian Gornick again. I’m not really in love with her or her writing but I am in love with her ability to bring you to a place so sacred and real that it could have been you behind the pen or keyboard. South African Andre Brink has that effect on me, so does Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and so many other greats. Is she of that callibre? No, but from behind my lenses, I can’t stop thinking about her short story “The Street,” where she captures the culture of urban energy, urban living.
I wrote about it a few weeks ago knowing I would be in New York soon. After re-reading the story, not only did I resonate with every encounter, but longed for The Street’s energy.
New York isn’t new to me, nor is The Street. This trip, I needed The Street more than I normally do and for the first time, was forced to explain it to not just one person, but two. It should have been four, but I had a hard time admitting that I needed to not only understand it – out loud to myself - but articulate it to another.
On The Street, I realized how important it was to be alone – with it, with myself. Normally I try to organize a networking group dinner of some kind, but this time it simply didn't happen. Client activity was back-to-back, but there’s always time for a three hour gathering that brings like-minds together with like-minds. Yet, in the time I had to myself, I longed to be alone with The Street.
Usually it takes me a day or two to settle into New York’s energy before I carry The Street with me and it carries me back. Within ten minutes of checking into my Times Square hotel, I needed to feel its presence.
I love people and the energy and color they carry with them. Without them, life would be gray, placid, limp and without meaning. Yet the peace attainable from walking The Street in a culturally dynamic, colorfully rich city like New York is without question, a ritual that fills me up. I look forward to the exchange of multiple languages, some of which I don’t recognize – quick, without explanation and for the purpose of a necessary exchange, or not.
Alone, I can take it all in. In someone else's presence, a connection is lost, as if The Street is its own person eager for my undivided attention.
I quietly take in the broken down and bandaid patched corner shops, windows that scream of vintage, art galleries, churches of all denominations, sparse coffee bars all with cappuccino machines, the even more desolate but authentic streets of Brooklyn in the late afternoon…..the list goes on.
Thank you Street. Your vibe, your color, the life you give off when others don’t make an effort to.
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