Thursday, December 22, 2005

beta boots made for walking

Perhaps the passing of the transit strike deadline last week made me be prepared for once when the NYC strike finally happened this week. For once, I had a contingency plan and followed through with it, packing up a roller bag with a week's worth of clothes and making arrangements to stay in the city. As I made my rounds around the city that last Monday night with bags in tow, I felt awkward, pinata-full of possessions, like a tourist in my own city.

Staying down in Chinatown now, I embrace this strange newness, my locus shifted, the geography tilted and rearranged. Locations and destinations once so distant and difficult to access are now just down the block, but when I suddenly flash on a book to reference, a name to look up in my library, a song to spin, they are distant, as tactile as a dream. Until the lines run again, I can't even fathom getting back out to Brooklyn.

Now, I walk thirty blocks up to Union Square and back, each day taking a new route, re-learning how the streets work down here, their orders, the differences of each corner as it unfurls before me at new angles. My surroundings are in flux, too. Yesterday morning, I kept hearing the sounds of old Papa-sans hacking up phlegm as they shuffled through Sara D. Roosevelt Park, but this morning, it's the beeps and whistles of men unloading palettes from trucks along Bowery, intersections with NYPD flapping their hands at traffic, and Bassist Punk Wanted fliers fluttering across the street from CBGB's.

I forgot how deeply lodged I was in my routines, my ruts, my pathways. Knowing the way home, I never deviated from the treaded gray line. I've lived in Brooklyn the entirety of my time in New York, and most crucial, I've never moved. By the time the lease comes back around, this will be the longest I've ever lived in any one place my entire life! And I've developed a blindspot to such sediment.

Comforts are now replaced with an uncertainty that is not at all disdainful. Staying in a crowded apartment in the city, I am thrilled by the odd new sounds. One morning, I awaken to a ricocheting sound, like ping-pong balls in a popcorn hopper, bouncing loudly outside my window. No longer ensconced in my own lethean green room, with my stereo blasting, my routine settled, with water ready for that first cup, breakfast already decided, and new packages dropping through the mail daily, I sit silently in a new pad, uncertain of what will occur next, where everyday items are in this foreign household.

I listen for these new curious sounds: how the old radiators in each bedroom gargle and hiss into a warm though discordant chorus, while the heating pipes in my room and in the bathroom ping in polyrhythms. Outside the door, I swear the neighbors have a fucking aviary: innumerable squawks and chirps and bickering beaks can be heard nattering and singing at all hours of the day. For once, the sounds of birds do not emanate from inside my own room.


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