New York, Part Two
We get entirely too little sleep but it’s somehow okay because we have brunch at the New York Eatery, which serves good coffee and banana-strawberry-chocolate-cream cheese french toast topped with ice cream.
I come across a heavy-looking bundle wrapped in newspaper and tied with a rope. Written across it in red marker are the words “Please Don’t Throw Me.” I want to throw it, but don’t.
It starts to rain, and the water that runs off the building tastes like dirt and trash and leaves an odd film on my skin that I want to scrub off. Tourists become testy and all of the cab drivers go, inexplicably, off-duty. A homeless man rams an empty shopping cart into a telephone booth – one, smash; two, smash; three, smash – and then glances sideways at us and mumbles “sorry.”
We stuff into another theater to see In the Heights and we’re on the very back row, no one sitting together, but it’s okay. Lin-Manuel, the writer and the star, comes onstage and everyone roars for him. The people in front of Andrew are convinced the entire show is in Spanish, even though the characters are only speaking with a slight accent. “I hate it,” the woman says, “and I hate rap.” Lin-Manuel freestyles a little but it’s hardly rap.
When the show is over we press outside to more rain, more cabless streets, and begin fighting to ride standby on the Bolt Bus back to Boston. One young woman pushes and waves her ticket in the air, soaking it, insisting “Let me on! Let me on! These people don’t have a ticket but I DO.” The bus driver refuses to let her on; she realizes all too late that she was trying to get on the Boston bus to try to get to Philly, realizing her mistake too late as the Philly bus pulls away. She stands umbrella-less in the rain, her ticket nothing more now than a wet kleenex. I wonder what will happen to her. We make it onto the bus, first in line on the waiting list, to the chagrin of about 10 angry people standing on the sidewalk, grimacing. The bus goes through the Bronx and I realize I haven’t been here before. Everyone I see is shouting. One man follows another through a landscape garden, waving his arms angrily, eyes narrowed, face flushed, mouth wide open. The object of his derision keeps his back to him, and continues to calmly water his plants.