Posts Tagged 'union square'

Abre los ojos

I made the effort to wake up at a sane time this morning and catch a ride into the city. The weather today is perfect, what I like to call ‘June weather’, but at the tail end of July: clear skies, no humidity, just a hint of a breeze rustling through the leaves of the oak trees. A lillywhite hipster’s leaning against one of them, plying his sax softly, melodious. A little robin is chirping sweetly nearby, and a mom just yelled at her kids for getting too close to the pigeons.
All is right with the world. (A pretty girl with red hair wearing red just walked up to the jazzman. He’s beginning to attract an audience.)
I’ve never been to this part of Union Square before. It’s not a big place, mind – I just don’t think I’ve ever treated it like a proper park, and never managed to wander to the center of it. There’s a huge bas-relief, pastoral, circumscribing a massive flagpole, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Declaration. On the weather-beaten, green-accented copper, there’s a majestic but strange scene of the everyday, with toga’d masons, farmers, warriors, striding past a gnarled willow, an Indian chief with his buffalo, a young babe suckling at mama’s teat – all submissive to the Declaration, and liberty.
This scene is not tucked away in some obscure museum in an outer borough, but rests in the very heart of the city; in point of fact I lived right across from it for an entire year and a block away from it for two more without caring to notice. A few choice platitudes come to mind about life moving fast, seizing the day and struggling to see (or listen, feel, even smell) what is in front of one’s nose. I guess it’s like this everywhere: it’s easy enough to get caught up in life’s routine, resigning one’s self to the everyday. But I’ve got a particularly bad case: it feels almost strange to me, this city I love – or think I love. How well do I know it, really? Am I blinded by an non-existent ideal, by a lust for a place that isn’t real? What secrets are there, hiding in the slum underbellies of East New York and the lower Bronx, the upper echelons of the Upper East, and standing athwart me, screaming, in plain sight? I wonder.