Carl Bosch is in New York City in a summertime swelter, and it’s not fun. And then, suddenly, it is.
Pounding the pavement in Manhattan on the search for art, drama, experience. Temperature in the low 90’s. The entire island a broiler pan ramped to 450 degrees. I like walking in the city, feels like freedom, turn a block west here? No, I think I’ll motor a few more blocks north first. I like walking in the heat; concrete smoldering, forget egg frying, we could throw some clay and make a street kiln, right here, right now. I flow for more than 120 blocks today. A self-imposed, forced-march, probably 10 miles total.
But I’m mainly watching people. Left, right, old, young, well dressed, tourist dressed, hardly dressed. Most of these people are moving! They have destinations, places to be, appointments, jobs, something driving them. Serious men and women in serious suits. Hard at it. They are wasting no time, moving fast through the heat and the concrete. The vast majority are straight-faced as if they’ve just stepped away from a losing poker table. I imagine they’re thinking about something, and I hope their thoughts are centered on the meeting at 11:00, picking up the laundry, what to have for dinner, their presentation at 3:00 this afternoon. But their faces and furrowed brows shout that they’re concerned, maybe even worried. Their rent increase? Will little Johanna get into that exclusive pre-school? Their presentation at 3:00 this afternoon? Iran? North Korea? Global warming?
Let’s be honest…they look…a lot of them look…grim.
It’s late afternoon and I stop for a few minutes in Central Park to rest my legs and watch some teenage girls playing softball. The attitude’s a little lighter here but not much. These girls and their cheering entourage want to win this game. They focus, bearing down, not unlike those thousands of serious pedestrians I’ve passed all day long.
I feel a single huge drop of rain on my shoulder. Bustling gray storm clouds moved in faster than a pop up off one of those springy metallic bats the girls are swinging. I move off my bench thinking cover might be a good idea. Traveling light, umbrella-less, I imagine an air-conditioned bar off Columbus Circle, but only get as far as one of the many walkway arches that are everywhere in the Park. It’s dry underneath. I watch the rain. A few people arrive and turn to look. It doesn’t just rain, it pours, a curtain of water unleashed from the sky. It’s Noah rain and the arch starts to fill up with people, but it’s huge, 40 yards across, we could fit hundreds here.
Families running with strollers. Here comes a dad and his 10 year old daughter on bikes, both laughing hysterically. People start to smile, and joke, laughing, driven from their purposeful day. Two young men, equipped with clarinet and guitar, start swinging into some free form jazz. The arch echoes. One couple starts to dance. Dollar bills rain into the open guitar case.
The downpour becomes a deluge, a small steam flows down the hill into our alcove. Arriving on a run are both of the softball teams, quivers of bats slung over their shoulders, now friends instead of rivals. Umpires show up a bit later, carrying masks and chest protectors. Latecomers are soaked through. Teenage girls arrive, laughing but trying to cover up their clothes, now rendered into wet suits. More dancing, chatting, laughter. People are actually looking at one another.
Then just as quickly…the sun. People start to head out. There go the cyclists…and the softball team…the dancers. Our young musicians play on. I roll on out to the now steaming pavement to continue my street hike. I can hear the music echoing behind me.
It was nice.
Let it rain.