I just crossed 14th Street, heading up 1st Ave and home. As climbed the stairs out of the L train station I had to hurry around a pregnant Hispanic woman and her husband, who was carrying their sleepy son, so I wouldn’t miss the light. (There was a Mr. Softee in the parking lane along Stuyvesant Town, and a cool but perceptibly summer breeze blowing down 1st Ave. Ahhh, summer.) I jaywalked west across 1st Ave and as I passed my local CVS I saw a young African-American employee standing outside, cheerfully singing out out to her middle-aged Indian colleague, “Take out the gaarrrbage! Take out the gaaarbage!” The Indian man smiled broadly and did a silly little dance in response. On the next block I passed the crappy local Chinese take-out place, where the distinctive yarmulke’d head of the man who owns the tasty but rather expensive falafel & grill place next door stood out among the people standing in line. I hurried past the two Korean delis but did stop to buy a pound of cherries from the Middle Eastern guy at the fruit stand outside Beth Israel.
In just three New York City blocks, I was reminded of the things that attracted and kept me here for so long. First, New York is where every kind of person from every country on earth lives and works in extremely close proximity….even along the fairly gentrified blocks of 1st Ave between 14th and 17th Streets. You can travel the world to meet people from every country, or you can walk down 1st Ave.
Second, after a few months living here you come to expect the incongruity of what you see on its streets. And realize that you’ve missed it, if you’ve been away.
Oops gotta run – the sushi I ordered for dinner is here. Gotta pay the inevitably Central American delivery dude at my door.