March 17, 2011 —
This morning on 61st and Madison I saw a man walking his cat. The cat had a harness wrapped tightly around its midsection, which was connected to the man’s hand by a very thin leash. The cat was huddled as far into the crevice between the sidewalk and the street that it could squeeze, completely freaked out by passing people and cars.
The man stood still, surprisingly patient. He did not pull or push the cat, almost as if it was Day 1 of a longer training plan. His end goal being that the cat would someday be able to walk down the street unafraid. The idea made me chuckle.
I’m just starting a new routine myself these days. Establishing a new and formerly unknown path through the city, a new place to buy coffee, a new subway route. (Don’t take the F to 63rd Street. It lets you out six stories underground and it takes 15 minutes to walk up to the street. If you have the choice, I recommend the NR to 59th.)
I am working out of an office on the Upper East Side—heading uptown these days instead of downtown to get to work. It’s an area that I don’t know very well. There’s not a whole lot of places to eat, so that’s annoying. But it’s right by the park, which will be nice this summer.
I have had many different routines in New York—most of them lasting a year or so, but some slightly longer or shorter. I guess I’m thinking mostly about routines of travel and location. Going from here to there. Home to work. Williamsburg to Canal Street was my routine for a long time. I rather liked that one. Recently I was working on Broadway, right above Houston.
Some of this is the product of being a freelancer. Jobs come and go, start and end and with it the journeys shift and change. I guess what intrigues me most is how much my path through the city influences the things that I see, the people I run into and the stories I tell. I enjoy its fluidity.
I hope I run into the cat on the leash again—maybe in a few weeks when the cat will be more comfortable with his new surroundings. Maybe by then, I’ll know the best place to find a cup of coffee and a sandwich. And maybe by then I’ll have a spot I like to sit in the park. Or I’ll have a Frisbee game to join.
These days I am trying to stay positive about trying new things. It seems that when I’m open and curious, the city shows me a secret. And when I disrespect it, it slaps me down. It isn’t as patient with me as the man was with the cat.
But unfortunately in a few weeks I might miss downtown. And maybe when I run into the cat on the leash I’ll grab it and together we will make a break for it. We’ll head down to the NR and book it out of here.
Deep down, I think that the cat will prefer downtown also. We’ll lose the leash and grab some dumplings. Maybe we’ll even make it into a routine.