Dear New York,
I know we said we wouldn’t get each other anything this year. But this morning I felt the need to write you, and a “Be Mine” card wasn’t going to suffice.
I was late for jury duty, pinned against the door of the M train by a gaggle of high school-age girls linked together like Rockettes in backpacks. The man to my left jammed his elbow into my rib cage as he turned the pages of his outdated issue of the New Yorker. A girl in Carhartt overalls boarded at Marcy Avenue, somehow parting the sea of commuters with a fixed-gear bicycle. The woman to my right applied mascara, admiring her handiwork in the surface of the window.
But as I mourned my daily subway roulette, the orange light of mid-morning bounced off the surface of the Hudson River, glowing that much brighter through the train’s scratch-graffitied windows. You can be hard-hearted, but you’re easy on the eyes. And even when I’m sure you can’t return the sentiment, I love you, New York.
This is a valentine for the pairs of white-haired men in Washington Square Park, sliding chess pieces across a board with aplomb, conning novice players out of their cash, drinking from an endless tap of new opponents.
A valentine for the shuttered Sunshine Cinema, the Hudson Diner, and Manny’s Music: the ones that got away.
One for the things that will take their place: nothing is left vacant, here.
This is a valentine for the woman selling $2 arepas from a cart on 182nd Street, satiating the young, stumbly revelers spilling out of Inwood bars, and for all of the hot dog, pretzel, and halal vendors out there. For Joe’s Pizza: I will abide an ATM fee for you and you only.
This is a valentine for the lines at Roberta’s and the Supreme store, and for the burly men who stand guard at all the front doors of all the clubs with all the velvet ropes.
A valentine for the unlimited MetroCard -- a key to the city -- and another for the underground buskers, the tile mosaics, the comforting countdown clocks. And a posthumous valentine for the Kentile Floors sign that once stood on view from the Smith-Ninth Streets station. You are missed.