Poppy always used to tell me to look up when I lived in the City. He said people who live in the City always forget to look at the sky. He would know, he was a Brooklyn guy.
I remember the first time I realized this. It was winter and I’d moved into the City that August into an apartment your father has declared, Baby Girl, he will never let you move into.
“It wasn’t that bad!” I protested in defense of 509 E. 73rd Street, in between York and the FDR drive.
“It is a street you go down if you want to murder someone. The New York City Sanitation Department parks their garbage trucks there.”
I pondered this, heard and smelled those trucks in my mind, but couldn’t recall ever being scared at age twenty-two, at least not about this. “Oh, it was fine…”
My office at More was on 42nd and Park right by Grand Central. I remember coming out late one night before a closing, I used to be burrowed there in my cubicle sometimes until 8:30 p.m., but I can’t remember doing what? Editing the Letters to the Editor page? (Funny how at whatever stage, you make things so important to you. Everything is major when it’s happening to you.)
Anyway I’d come out, and it was winter. And the Salvation Army Santa’s were ringing their bells in front of Pershing Square. And it was cold. The wind was really biting in those tunnels. And it was Christmas time, so it was insanely crowded by all of those stores. I hugged the wall by Cipriani to avoid a tsunami of commuters. And suddenly, I looked up…
There they were, the stars.
Oh, how long have you been standing there?
…It’s been raining a lot. Crazy weather. (Or maybe the weather is one of those things like check out lines, you’re always going to get on the one that sucks because they always suck.) The other night your dad and I sat outside in the backyard after a big thunder-storm, and oh my god, it sounded like a jungle out there. There were so many birds, and bugs. And what is that, a frog? Is that a hyena?
We thought is was just because of the rain, but here I am, writing outside while Cecilia our cleaning lady is here.
And oh, my god, it sounds like a jungle out here. There are so many birds. I just looked up and the sky is so blue.
It’s a shame the things you do not notice when you’re only looking forward.