I am sitting at a table near an open window at a tapas place. I’m waiting for my dinner companion to return from the bathroom that I know is in the room, in the back, at the bottom of the stairs, in the bowels of the café. It’s a spring day that actually feels like a real spring NYC day. Not that hint of March lion where, just watch, tomorrow will be 20 degrees again just ’cause. No, it’s that warmish spring air that tells you it’s going to stick around.
I hear a cacophony of sounds on the sidewalk and street in front of me. It’s the usual discordant din that is not quite the white noise of living in a big city.
Sirens from ambulances and police cars speeding by assault my serenity as I nurse my large cup of black coffee. Buses and trolleys rumble by. Motorcycles and motor scooters, too.
There’s a group of teenage boys loudly playing rap music and performing what I assume to be some sort of rhythmical dance moves as a small crowd of onlookers gathers around them. Across the street a woman walking down the street spews random profanity at passers-by of her spot in the middle of the sidewalk.
I look up between the tall buildings to the sound of a passenger jet overhead, only to be distracted by the voice of the homeless man asking those who sat at the outdoor tables for any spare change. Some give, some don’t.
Down the block in the other directions the sounds of a musician playing acoustic guitar, accompanied by someone drumming on a large plastic pail turned upside down, wafts toward me. It’s not unpleasant.
Around me I hear the many conversations of the other diners that blur into its own white noise as well the ambient music playing in the restaurant itself.
I find myself smiling at everything and nothing.
My dinner companion returns and a velvet baritone breaks through my pensive listening. “You all right, Rai?”
And on this first day of spring in New York City, listening to the sounds around me, for the first time in a long time I realize something…
“Yes, I am.”
Day 20 of 31 –
15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers