The World is my Playground
This is my blog. Thus, it's somewhat of my practice field. It's 12:30 a.m. early Wednesday morning and I've woken up because inspiration has hit.
*Splash* My Chuck Taylors hit the pavement. I look up, and with part frown, part smirk, I mutter under my breath: "Rain...again." I went three months and didn't see a drop of rain. Lately, it feels like if I go a few hours without seeing rain then I'm doing pretty good. I look at the door closing behind me, look back up, then look left, and then right. I turn to the right, putting one foot in front of the other. Where am I going? I don't know. I just know I'm going.
Soon after I begin walking, the rain begins to slow. My pace is less purposeful, but my smirk...well it's no longer a smirk, but more of a grin, as if the rain slowing and the clouds parting are somehow my doing. Ahead I see it. I've seen it many times, yet each time, I stop for a few minutes, observe the unique architecture, take a photo, and keep walking. From the Brooklyn Museum my pace quickens as I pass by the outer gates of Prospect Park and the Botanical Gardens, brushing my fingers gently along the ends of the greenery.
Up ahead I see what's become my favorite block in New York City. Out comes my camera again to snap a couple photos. I jump up onto the ledge of the steps of the Brooklyn Library, looking across to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch at Grand Army Plaza. This is my Leonardo DiCaprio moment. To get a laugh I might have typically proclaimed: "I'm on top of the world." I quickly dismiss this idea. I look around and notice a couple people staring blankly at me. I jump down and keep walking.
I look north. I've never walked north past this point. I look up. The clouds have thinned out and the rain has completely stopped. I look at my phone as if I'm needed. Like I may have miss something important. I start walking north toward the arches of Grand Army Plaza. I stop at the crosswalk, cringing as an older man quickly starts crossing the road while the orange hand on the crosswalk sign remains lit at the busy cross-section. He's obviously a local and done this before as he times it perfectly as the crosswalk sign switches from the orange hand to white walking figure.
I walk through the arches toward the end of the plaza and stop. Ahead, much further than it actually seems, I see downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge, and then just beyond, Manhattan. I start walking again. A couple blocks in and I start smelling the aromas of garlic, freshly baked bread, and sewer. I remember that all I've eaten all day is a small chocolate cookie with a jelly belly on top. To the left I see the bright sign that reads "pizza". I look up and mutter to myself: "Certainly it's not going to rain for awhile."
"Two slices and a can of Pepsi." Two different men serve me, both with thick European accents. I consider guessing, but I've been standing in line for 5 minutes and haven't seen anything close to resembling a smile from either one. I imagine the response from the two older gentlemen if I blurt out "Poland", picturing the worst possible circumstance. I quickly take my slices and sit down. Above me there's a soap opera on TV. Beside me, I notice a young Asian male finishing his slice of pizza. Directly in front of me are two much younger males exchanging dialogue: "Kobe or Michael Jordan. Kobe. Lebron James or Shaq. Lebron, any day. Shaq or Michael Jordan. Fucking Jordan, have you seen Shaq at the free throw line?"
I step outside Geno's. I feel a small drop of water land on the back of my neck. I look up. The clouds have returned. The rain has slowly started again. I look right, up the hill toward where I've come. I look left toward downtown Brooklyn. I turn left, one foot in front of the other. I cross to the other side of the road as I start walking further north toward the Brooklyn Bridge.
I cross to the other side of the road. I hear a shriek just 25 yards ahead of me. I see a woman bending down, holding her stomach, with two companions with her while another person hails down a cab. I can't imagine. Standing on a Brooklyn sidewalk and she is moments from having a baby. I freeze. I don't know whether I should feel compassion, concern, or mutter the words: "Only in New York."
I walk several more blocks, that is until the rain starts coming down even harder. People's paces have picked up and I'm the only one left on the block without an umbrella. I stop at the corner and glance ahead. Just a few more blocks to the Brooklyn Bridge, which I've never walked across. I look to the right and see Ft. Greene. The Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument and Crypt rises atop the green, grassy hill, just a couple blocks from where I'm standing. I consider whether I want to take a cab or the subway. Right then, a double-decker open-air tourist bus, full of people, rounds the corner. I smile, chuckle to myself, and then confidently and with a sense of satisfaction say aloud: "I think I'll walk back."
"The world is my oyster." What the hell does that even mean. Oysters are slimy going down, often hit or miss on taste, and aren't that filling. "The world is my playground." Now that's more like it. I think back as a kid playing on the playground and it's one of my fondest memories. Sprinting toward the monkey bars, before heading to the seesaw, then back to the monkey bars, and tagging one of my friends: "You're it." I would run up the castle stairs, cross the moat on the chain ladder, and then zip down the slide, only for my friend to be waiting for me at the bottom: "Tag, now you're it." Five minutes or two hours, it didn't matter. There was such a sense of wonder. This was the playground.
The aroma of food, the taste of greasy $2 pizza slices, the splash of puddles, the extraordinary architecture of buildings that can't be reproduced, the laughter of children, the touch of budding flowers. There's such a sense of wonder. Both at destinations I visit for the first time, as well as those I've been to multiple times. Five minutes or two hours, it doesn't matter. When my Chuck Taylors hit the pavement, this is my playground.
This post comes to you at 2 a.m., under the influence of multiple repeats of Diddy's Coming Home and Lupe Fiasco's The Show Goes On.