New York, Unfocused

There’s a chill in the air. Everyone is bustling past, clenching their hoods tighter around their necks, or hunkering under scaffolding and billowing umbrellas. It’s wet outside. The rain pours down heavier and heavier until the fronts of your jeans are soaked, and droplets run down your jacket sleeves. Puddles are collecting on the street. Cars whip past spraying a wall of water onto unsuspecting pedestrians who focus more on looking down and getting home vs. what lies ahead. It’s dark outside. The streetlights shine out and illuminate the falling mist and low hanging fog. You can see who is home and what apartments are empty; you can see just how New York is getting by during the rainstorm.

While I stood, and when I walked, I watched the city come in and out of focus. I walked out of the house with just a raincoat and a pair of Docs (well and other clothes as well). My hair was platted into two separate dutch braids that follow my skull and curve down by either ear. I have my hood up, but no umbrella—part of me knew it was raining, but the other part didn’t know how much it was. For most of my walk from 80th street to Lincoln Center, it rained hard, but I had stepped out of the house wearing my glasses.

Why that last sentence is so important is because wearing glasses during a rainstorm is almost as bad as driving during one with no windshield wipers. The droplets form on the glass and streak down when they become too heavy. You could have big drops, little drops, and sized drops in between, but there is never anything to help wipe it all away. So when I leave the house with glasses on when it’s raining, they immediately go into my pocket—leaving me in this unfocused world that feels intimately alienating.

At this point, I love to be outside without my contacts on. There are no faces until they are right next to me. There are no signs, ads, or stores to distract me. There were just lights everywhere. The Apple Store on 67th and Broadway looked like a sun, the Hotel Empire sign glowed like a red halo over the skyscrapers.

I didn’t need any street signs, I knew where I was going. So I walked along and allowed the city that so famously catches everyone’s eye, fall to the background of everything else that lingered within in it. I paid more attention to the people around me because part of me wanted to see the face that was once a blur. I looked more at how the buildings reflected in the puddle like a mirror putting a scene into focus. I noticed the way the lights blurred when the cars drove past, and how the city seemed to calm down once you couldn’t see everything that was happening around you.

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