Archived: Washington Square Park.

Words are not coming easily to me lately. I've been unfocused, generally down and so, so busy. I hate it. Because I have a list of things I need to write, but there's something stopping the thoughts from becoming sentences.And because I want to keep publishing this blog even through this stupid writer's block, I'm digging through things I've written in the past and reposting them here. Because I like them. So. I wrote this during my last visit to New York, in April 2008. My Paris trip and generally dwindling finances will prohibit a similar trip this year, unless I happen upon some kind of unexpected windfall this summer. (Unlikely.) And that makes me sad. Because the experience I wrote about here is the sort of thing I really only ever felt in that city, and I would love to feel it again. I'm long past due for a little wonder.

Generally, I think it's safe to say I don't really miss New York. It's lovely to be back seeing friends and revisiting my old haunts — if I can even have those after only a year and a half here — but I've realized again how frenetic and filthy the city is, and how not me that is now. A girlfriend and I were texting back and forth yesterday as I was walking around, and we both commented that while it seems nothing about the city has changed, we've both become completely different people since we left. Total transformation.

That being said, I had a pretty amazing — and very "New York" — experience yesterday. After stuffing myself with a falafel sandwich in Union Square, I made my way down University Place and toward the center of the NYU campus. I wound up in Washington Square Park. Near the park's northern entrance, I happened upon two guys, a student passerby and a volunteer from a student ministry, talking about…well, religion, to put not too fine a point on it. One guy, Hawk, who had basically the same views on religion as I do at this point, eventually got fed up and walked off, but for some reason I stayed around. Trevor, the guy from the campus ministry, just wanted to hear my thoughts on God and religion and seemed to genuinely want to have a discussion with me. Not convert me. So I talked. And I told him about how frustrating it was to feel that sometimes I have faith just itching at me below my surface but can't seem to understand how to get it out. Or explain it to myself. I told him that sometimes I see people — like the man with a walking stick and a hat covered in buttons on the Upper West Side yelling "Merry Passover!" to everyone he passed — who fill me with totally inexplicable glee. I told him about being in California and seeing the perfection in shape, color and scent of all those flowers — and being almost sure that I was wrong about the nonexistence of God. Because how could those things just occur naturally without someone thinking, "I should give them this beautiful, subtle reminder of me." But I just don't know. In my most rational moments, when I'm not overwhelmed by people and beauty in the world, I can't wrap my head around God. And he just nodded. And told me he thought I was on my way. And asked if he could pray for me. And I closed my eyes with him and listened to him ask God to help me find him. Then I hugged him. Because it was such a perfect way to start my weekend here.

And as I walked away, I heard a jazz band playing across the park. So I wandered over and listened to them for an hour and a half. I was glued to the park bench, just mesmerized by their music. It was so calming. There was an old man sitting right near the band who would randomly get up, walk to the middle of the sidewalk and start dancing. He put his arms out, closed his eyes and just started spinning around. People had to weave around him; a dad had to move his stroller away. And he'd spin until he got dizzy, then he'd put his arms down and walk back to where he'd been sitting. Absolutely amazing.