A New York City Vignette
A Saturday walk through Washington Square Park gives your every reason to stay. Or leave. Up to you.
New York City was recently rated the 121st best place to live in the US, barely beating out its longtime rival, Youngstown, Ohio (#128). Given the slew of COVID articles announcing New York’s demise, it feels my walk yesterday is worthy of reminiscence.
To enter Washington Square Park on a sunny, 51 degree Saturday during COVID is to see representatives of each citizen packed tightly inside the 10 acre expanse. The dense microcosm resembles a snowglobe, though instead of white flakes, you are enveloped by the sweet, viscous smoke of marijuana.
19-year-old NYU girls share a cigarette;
skateboarders weave through pedestrians as they try to ollie over a tipped over trash can;
Hare Krishnas, whose conspicuously new Patagonia jackets insinuate more white suburban dads than worldly devotees, chant out of tune on their rug;
a woman sells me a painting before returning to her pulp fiction paperback; a clown sits on a bench deep in thought; a guy does various tricks juggling a soccer ball, for no money;
a musician remixes popular songs on his electric violin;
behind him on the grass another guy offers free hugs during COVID, which can’t be helping our numbers;
groups of people sit together, and some people just sit by themselves;
an electric guitarist plays uptempo jazz while a clearly deranged shirtless guy violently hippie dances in front of him, ruining any chance for tips;
and as I exit, Matthew McConaughey’s 1993 doppelganger pulls up to the red light in a VW bug convertible, top down, and beckons all the crosswalkers to dance with him. He, too, is not wearing a shirt.
To quote someone I know: “honestly, that sounds like a lot.” Like the rest of the city, it’s an assault on the senses, and long exposures definitely brings down your life expectancy. But fortunately there are 120+ cities that offer something different. If COVID gave you the opportunity to move away to Reno, NV; Manchester, NH; or Lakeland, FL (numbers 38, 54, and 61 respectively); I hope they give you exactly what you’re looking for.
Me? I love these 10 acres. I’ll stick around.