THIS POST HAS A SOUNDTRACK. (I know it can be annoying to press play, and then scroll back up to stop the song when it’s time for the next one, but indulge me).
1] Do me a favor and click play on this, so it plays while you read:
By: Gabriela Yareliz
Welcome to New York City in the spring. The weather has been fluctuating in strange ways. Sometimes, we have a 45-degree gray day; other times, we are prancing through a 67-degree sunlit masterpiece. Regardless, it’s spring, and it’s here trying to complete its metamorphosis into a hot sticky summer.
The Hudson is filled with runners, lovers on picnic and tanners who read (so intellectual, I know). On Easter Sabbath, a few of us went to the Hudson walk to relax in the sunshine. It was a lovely afternoon.
As you continue to walk uptown, you notice the shop-lined avenues such as Fifth, Park and Madison are sprinkled with trees that are flowering. Walking uptown is never boring. The shops now have their doors open, and you barely need to walk because you can be swept along by a mob of tourists eating ice cream and their little children swinging American Girl bags that crinkle as they get smashed against your pedestrian legs. There is usually some classic music spilling onto the avenues. By classic, I don’t mean Mozart, I mean an old Michael Jackson song or something.
I was walking with a friend up to Central Park to see the blooming trees. We were walking in the 50s blocks, when a shop with its doors wide open had this playing:
2] Second song of the soundtrack (play after Uptown Girl):
While walking, everyone sharing the sidewalk started grooving. Yes, we all know this song. Why walk, when you can dance up Fifth Avenue? Some tourists beside us started moving Michael Jackson style, twirling and all. It was fantastic.
When we arrived at Central Park, we glanced around and didn’t see the trees immediately. Turns out, you need to enter the park around 70th street. Then, our eyes fell on the Pilgrim Man. The Pilgrim Father (not my father, but somebody’s father) was standing majestically immersed in flowering trees. It was getting dark. Picnic romantics started picking up their bright pink and yellow blankets and leaving. We decided to sit under the trees. The temperature started dropping, and an ant tried to hitchhike on me. We then got up and left, walking toward the boathouse. Apparently, there was a party there. Men in suits crowded the patio area. There were so many people, they looked like sardines in a fire-hazardous situation. We weren’t invited to that party.
When it comes to New York, you don’t need to be invited to a party. The party is wherever a musician sets up and people gather. One of my favorite party-starters is the “Piano Man” at Washington Square Park.
3] This is the next song:
The sunny day I saw him last, he was very enthusiastic. More talkative than usual. At the end of his own performance he yelled, “That was amazing!” It was. It really was. He had a full audience. All of us on the surrounding benches had our eyes glued on him.
Central Park and the avenues are not the only blooming areas of New York.
If you walk around the village, window boxes are now heavy with not pumpkins or winter plants, but tulips and daffodils. Sometimes, you can’t help but look up and wonder what would happen if a loaded window box or A/C unit fell on you. But returning to happy thoughts: The Piano Man is not the only one who shares music.
4] Next song:
I was walking through the Village, and I was debating whether I wanted to peruse some things in a British boutique. Mind you, I can’t afford anything in there; I am curious by nature. At that moment, while waiting to cross the street (I was not jaywalking in this instance, gasp–rare, I know), a guy in a delivery van, with this song playing: “I just wanna show you off” looked at me. He winked and turned up the music. This is Village flirting. No words, just a song that says “You catch me starin’, I can’t help it–“
I broke the eye contact. I crossed the street smiling (and probably shaking my head). ‘WOW!’ was all I was thinking. Thank you, man.
5] Shopping Song:
After entering that one boutique and disappointing the employees by not buying any expensive frivolous accessories, I continued to walk down, deeper into the Village. As I passed boutiques, I noticed the mannequins. Some mannequins have arms down to the hands, others do not. This is going to sound weird, but some mannequins have very realistic breasts. Those are usually in Ralph Lauren and high end shops, and they do not wear bras. Is it more “vogue” or is it some kind of status for mannequins to not wear bras and look like runway models? Must be. You don’t see those in Forever21. Yes, people, there is a mannequin hierarchy.
The parks are filled with people. We are like little critters coming out of our boroughs after a nasty, nasty, nasty–(did I say nasty enough?) winter. We are out, about, eating ice cream in weather that could still be considered chilly–but the fountains are on. That means something.
I discovered a new church in the Village. It’s dedicated to the “Lady of Pompeii” (whoever she may be; I am sure she did something great that merits having something named after her). The ceilings are gorgeous. I made sure to say a prayer of gratitude (to God, not the unknown Lady of Pompeii). Gratitude for my family’s wellbeing, the weather, for health, for school, for friends and for joy.
Spring explorations have begun. This is only the beginning. Enjoy the sunshine on your skin, breathe the air outside, wink at the delivery guy (and if you are the delivery guy, wink back), go into a boutique and admire yourself in a dress you refuse to pay $600 for. Stop to admire the flowers, and always remember, there is so much more than ourselves out there. Life is beautiful. Listen and soak in the stories all around you; in people, on the walls, in nature.
Find your joy; find your peace; and know, God has placed you where you are at this time. All is renewed and made perfect in His time, which means there should be no place you’d rather be.