Armistice in the City MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   Finally, after seemingly hours of pondering the yellow,cracked ceiling, the crude and shady character across the aisle, and thepartially eaten donut on the floor, I hear a crackling voice over the intercom,"Next and final stop, Penn Station, New York City."

New YorkCity, the cultural melting pot of the world. Hearing those three words quickensmy heart until it hums like the air conditioners hanging from apartment complexwindows. The lights, the excitement, the business, the low and high society - allof it boggles my mind, leaving me in my most euphoric state.

Jolted backto reality by the screech of brakes as the train rolls to a stop, I fight to bethe first out the door. The jostling and busy elbowing of commuters momentarilythrows me off guard, but, stepping into an all-too-familiar and beloved persona,I reciprocate with my own highly stylized New York City shove. Plowing my waythrough crowds with mounting anticipation, I scurry up the cold gray stairs tothe ground level, side-stepping enormous clumps of pink gum and hastily smokedcigarette butts.

Sauntering through the smudged revolving doors, I amtransported into a new dimension where life never ceases to whirl wildly throughunknown alleyways. Overtaken, my lungs flare up in an effort to suck it in. Carfumes and the smoggy, musky air nicely mix with the strange and alien smellsspilling from the partially closed sewer hole in the center of the street. On thecorner, a hot dog vendor warily tries to translate the food requests of Frenchtourists as his open case allows a meaty stench to pervade the air. The warm sunonly succeeds in further saturating the atmosphere with the mesh of citytangs.

In the street, a newsletter announcing the next big holidayparade lays smudged in the corner of a puddle near the gutter. Briskly marchingwith a cell phone attached to his right ear and a small, black laptop foldedunder his left, a sleek-looking businessman in a dark suit and sunglasses grindshis heel into the paper as he races to avoid the speeding taxi and arrive on timefor his lunch date.

With a short, angry beep and a whine of tires, thetaxi stops at a severe - though not uncommon - 45 degree angle as a stream ofjaywalkers, inspired by the businessman, impatiently weave in and out to crossthe street. Nosing into the crowd and daring to continue testing his limits, thedark-haired cab driver edges forward before stomping on the gas pedal andsquealing down the road, recklessly ignoring the rest of theworld.

Pressed up against a brilliant black skyscraper, an old, toothlessman crouches, reflections from the sun bouncing off the building and casting aray of light a few inches from his dwarfed leg. Wearing a worn cap with grungyjeans of no recognizable color, he calls out in a muffled voice, "A dollarfor my first meal of the day." The natives fly by with deaf ears andoccupied minds, while a vacationing family stops to toss a bill into the rustedcup.

Everywhere there's the hubbub of Calypso Street musicians, cars,taxis, tour buses, slamming doors, tourists, phones ringing, Broadway playsletting out, crowds listening to a righteous street sermon and the jingle ofbells from a horse-drawn carriage making its way through traffic. Men and womenin designer wardrobes stride past incredible store windows while others in jeansgawk in admiration at the handiwork. Unlit signs on every door and in everywindow wait for evening to draw near so that they might light up the world withtheir romance and beauty.

Cafés and diners filled with tired feetand light hearts overflow with exciting conversation, laughter and thickemotions. The desire to experience the love and peace attainable in eachover-populated block crammed with invigorating adventure is completelyirresistible. And that is just a slice of New York City life.

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By Benedict C., New City, NY

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