Today I was walking down Broadway in the twenties, and I was reminded of the first time I was in New York on my own.
That first time, I must have also visited on a Sunday, because I was walking down the street and nothing was open. I was walking alone down Broadway for what seemed like miles, intent on finding ‘The Village’.
I didn’t know where ‘The Village’ was or what it looked like, but I knew it meant something. From what little I knew, those who lived in ‘The Village’ lived fuller lives than the rest of the world and were one step closer to ‘the truth’. Surely I’d recognize The Village; a cozy, historic neighborhood, with friendly, all-knowing villagers walking about. But all I could find that day were enormous, limestone buildings filled with empty furniture stores.
I kept walking for a bit, but gave up before reaching Union Square. My adventure seemed miles long but I must have gone in circles for a few blocks, before stumbling to a subway and returning home to New Jersey.
It was all the same to me at that time - the tall buildings, the littered sidewalks, the stores shut up with roll-down gates. One neighborhood bled into the next. The quest to find ‘The Village’ and the omniscient villagers ended, that very day.
Both the city and I have changed since then. I know better. The secret is that the younger folk drink too much on Saturday and the older ones stay in or leave for the weekend. Everyone exercises the small luxury of sleeping in, as if they could control the arrival of Monday morning. The city is left empty to those who don’t live there, who arrive early to wander the streets in search of something to hold onto and take home.