New York City mantra

Jeremy has a cheery little ditty that started when we were facing the nightmare of apartment hunting in the city. He chants it when a taxi driver won’t take us to Brooklyn or when he spends too long at the Post Office. I hear him mumbling it as he manhandles our bikes into the basement, ‘This city will kill you’.

As I said, cheery.

He’s right, of course. All of the stories are true. New York is dirty and cramped and smelly and hectic and expensive. It is not somewhere you come for an easy, peaceful life. It can be a very difficult place to be, a challenging place to carve out a home.

Yet, in between trying to kill you, the city has moments when it is truly magical, when all the hardships seem trifling in comparison.

There’s a guy in Washington Square Park. He calls himself the Crazy Piano Guy. He drags his grand piano into the space between the park’s fountain and its grand archway. He plays amidst the tourists and the homeless and the buskers and the NYU students. If you stand long enough you’ll watch kids dance, lovers kiss, old men argue and young families take their holiday snaps. You can smell the street carts and hear cars honking in the distance. You can see the world unfold to the sound of his keys hitting the notes. It provokes a certain sense of wonderment, a feeling that you can come alive in this city.

New York piano man

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