Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The People at Bryant Park

So today I went to Bryant Park, ostensibly to study Biology.

And I did study Biology. Not enough, and I'm going to go back to it as soon as I've finished this, but what I want to describe is what I saw at Bryant Park.

Today was the kind of glorious golden day you dream about; the kind where the sun is pure and radiant and heat wafts over you and lulls you to sleep. There were no clouds in the sky and there was a large expanse of soft green grass. Speckling the grass were darker green lawn chairs and tables, one of which I took for myself as I attempted to study Biology.

But this was difficult because of the people.

Not that the people were talking or acting rude or doing anything problematic at all. No, not at all. People were being people and it has to be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

People were present. They were there, in the moment, enjoying the sun and the gorgeous green grass, looking about contentedly or smiling serenely. They looked happy.

I saw people of all kinds, of all ages. There were several families with babies or younger children who had spread out picnic blankets and were picnicking on the grass. There were guys who had taken off their shirts in an effort to tan and other guys who were reading books. They were girls who were laughing and smiling at one another; friends who were snapping pictures of one another with their camera phones. There was a lady with blonde hair who was simply teasing one strand as she talked on the phone, not urgently, not the kind of busy, anxious phonecall of a businessman, but softly, quietly, as though this were something she wanted to do, not something she had to do.

And that brings us to the businessmen. This has to be one of the funniest things I have ever seen: businessmen, stiffly attired in the formal suit and tie and fancy black lace-up shoes of the workplace, sitting down on the grass and folding their legs up beneath them, some of them even lying down on the ground. They seemed to see everything for what it was- sublime. Unsurpassable. They had to be sweating and very hot, after all the sun was beating down on them and they were wearing three-piece suits. But they, too, seemed happy.

There were other college girls with laptops and computers; girls with notebooks and pencils and pens scribbling busily away, lit by the sun.

Every so often I looked up from my notebook, blinking my eyes because of the glare of the sun, and simply stared off at the green trees and the green grass and the frolicking people. And I felt happy, too.

After a while I couldn't concentrate...the grass was calling me...so I left my lawn chair and lawn table and lay down, but propped up my notebook on my backpack so I was still studying Biology. I looked up after a while and noticed a very distinguished-looking man with darker skin, perhaps Indian, wearing a black turtleneck, soft suede trousers and black socks. He had placed his backpack underneath his head; had taken off his brown jacket and draped it over a chair and had two books, one of which had a red cover, placed next to his head. He was sleeping.

I decided to go to sleep.

I mimicked the man's arrangement. I had a black leather backpack; I put it down on the ground, covered it with my zip-up hoodie, took out my ponytail, held my biology notebook in my arms and...fell asleep.

It was the kind of delicious doze that you always want; this feeling of absolute contentment. I did not hear the sound of silence but I heard the low hum of happy voices, people who were pleased to be here, sprawled out on this expanse of grass, people dining at the little tables, having purchased food from the nearby Bryant Park grill, people who were enjoying being people and taking a rest. The sun lights on your face and arms and warms you and when you look up you see a clear blue sky, completely blue. You overhear snippets of conversation and they make you laugh; you watch people and how they behave, evaluate their looks and clothes and words and you are amply entertained.

I awoke to find a photographer nearby; he, too, must realize what a perfect setting this is. He was snapping shots of nearly everybody; of the children picnicking and the students studying, the businessmen simply enjoying the day and the tired students who had fallen asleep with their books propped open atop their faces to shade them from the sun.

I love people most when I am in a place like this; where I am surrounded by them but nobody knows me. Everyone is happy, everyone pleased and contented, taking a break from the insane pace of life that is New York City. Here only a few people are on cellphones; everyone else is talking or sleeping or reading. It's a lazy day to bask in and this is the place to do it. It's so nice to be around happy people, around people who aren't pushing and shoving and fighting to get on with their day, people who aren't crossing on red lights and daring death to do it, people who aren't raising their voices at unseen parties on cellphones.

It's so nice to take a break from all that and return to who we really are, all human beings with a common desire to be relatively happy, out in the sun enjoying a beautiful day.


Erachet said...

Wow. That's awesome. I think maybe I'll go to Bryant park tomorrow to study English.

Anonymous said...

I love Bryant Park. Thank Hashem and Giulianni that it's not all ridden with drug dealers like it was 15 years ago. In a very short time, it's gotten very cleaned up. Hooray!

Sarah Likes Green said...

sounds lovely. reminds me of days i used to spend on the lawn at my first university.

SJ said...

Hoorah for Bryant Park! Should I be offended that you didn't invite me to your study party? It's ok though, because I finally saw you last night. This post describes perfectly exactly how I felt spending a day at Bryant Park about two weeks ago. In fact, it's almost uncanny how precisely you articulated my observations, thoughts, and emotions. Have you taken up mind reading as your newest method of procrastination?

Jewish Atheist said...

Thank Hashem and Giulianni...


Great post, as usual, Chana.