That’s the thing about this city.
It will kick you down and rob you blind. Then it will caress you with a silky breeze that reminds you why you love this place.
That’s the thing about New York City. It has always had a rough side. You can’t be a delicate flower or you will wilt on the vine. But if you are dandelion tough, you can force your golden mop through a sidewalk crack and dazzlingly dare anyone to mess with you.
In this city, you can walk along urine-stained streets, inhaling rotting garbage and unwashed bodies. But as you stroll, you can also hear the fragile strains of a violin sonata passionately practiced by an open window.
You can’t be a softy in New York. But you can enjoy a softee cone from an ice cream truck stopped on a random block. You need to be hard like a day old bagel from a dusky deli yet also soft enough to notice to the warm, buttery scent of a fresh croissant from a corner bakery.
New York is tough. It’s for fighters and con artists. It’s for tricksters and the rabidly ambitious. But it’s also as soft as the dreamers, creators and travelers walking their own paths on its well trodden trails. And as soft as falling snow on a silent Central Park morning.
This city is as rough as Hell’s Kitchen, as ruthless as a loan shop in the East Village, as rotten as a tenement way uptown. But it’s also as gentle as a park swing, as ephemeral as a windblown summer dress, as welcoming as a shady park bench where old friends quietly chat.
Oh, this city will grab you hard. And never let you go. That’s the thing about this city.
This ode to NYC was triggered by the following creative prompt in my zoom writing class. It was written in 12 minutes (and polished later) : “That’s the thing about this city” Composed April 6, 2021.