Subway rides are more than just the means to get from here to there; they are actually mazy little incubators of contemplation. Down there, meandering through the bowels of the beast, often shoved up against your fellow city dwellers, one often comes to terms with the best and worst of it here in the Big Apple. The beat of New York is a drum call to action: ambition! purpose! success! …and exciting as it may be, it can also be hardening and alienating, as though you yourself are the drumskin and the city is beating out its relentless footfall across your back. Winter is particularly harsh once the avenue winds have chased away the sparkles of holiday pixie dust. But why on earth am I bringing up the winter when we are still tailing off the end of the summer and noticing only the first subtle leaf tints of fall?? There is magic in every place and New York doles out ample shares to those who open their arms long enough.
Have you ever bought a fresh litchi before and peeled away its notched dinosaur skin to discover the pearl inside? It’s quite an experience. I hadn’t before I moved here. The street venders sell them from their carts during stone fruit season at the end of the summer, and I bought a bag out of curiosity. I actually had no idea what to do with it. Pop the whole of it in my mouth? Slice through the middle? In my uncertainty, I took a knife and pushed a small puncture next to the stem bed. A bit of juice ran out and I used my fingernail to coax away the rest of the scaly surface area until a moon colored sphere began to appear. The skin clings to the pearl, but does not tear at it when removed, so the soft fruit beneath is left entirely intact. There is a smooth pit inside, which the fruit kind of wraps itself around in a possessive way. The taste is sweet and flowery. I’m eating them slowly, because they feel like a luxury, and I can imagine their passageway here, and how we can honor the bits of life that bring us joy.
That’s one perk of NYC living. There are many. I say this as a reminder to myself, because I can become quite forgetful when I’m aching to be with the ones I love. I’m almost on the cusp of leaving this city, and some things, such as the litchis of August and September, should not be forgotten. I love my fire escape too, which offers moments upon moments of much needed respite. It deserves its own ode.
And also this vision, as seen from the water walk on Governor’s Island:
Lady Liberty herself, against a most wondrous backdrop of sky.
I am where I am, and for now it’s good enough. Wishing you contentment in your surroundings today, Apples.