I just had the fastest commute of my life. I made it from Hamilton Heights to Brooklyn Heights in 22 minutes. This was, in part, due to the fact that I managed to drive from 34th to the Brooklyn Bridge never once tapping my breaks aside from when I crossed the West Side Highway. Though on some level, shooting 50mph down dark stretch of road normally snarled with cars, cops, and trucks was surreally exhilarating, it was also nauseatingly eye-opening. All the images I’ve been seeing secondhand came home in a visceral wave. Driving throughower Manhattan left me feeling like a tomb robber, skulking about a dark and forbidden place, waiting for something horrible to happen. It was not until I turned on to Broadway, and was faced with the flashing cavalcade of the NYPD ‘security stop’ at Fulton station that it dawned on me just how dark it was beyond the glowing cone of my headlamps.
I have written a lot about NYC over the years – flights of fancy, poems, and odd lots of experiences lurking at the periphery of dawn. Never have I seen her like this. I feel like I was witness to a compound fracture, but the break starts in midtown and travels the remaining length of the island, rather than a femur or shin. To those living downtown, as I once did, my morbid moment of self-realization is two drops of pee in a roiling cauldron of a pisspot, but that connection was sobering. Strength and resilience – hell, maybe even stubbornness have seen New Yorkers through worse, but rarely, and even more rarely with the wounds so garish and laid bare. My heart goes out to the populace of the city which will never quite be the same again. For all our concrete and macadam, copper and steel, wireless and fiber optics, we really aren’t much more than a colony of fleas precariously colonized in the mane of Nature, gambling on our survival through the next big itch.