Strolling through the Sensual Haze of the Metropolitan
A walk in the city of New York is unlike any experience you can have walking in any other city. If you have ever done a science project that involved the use of a microscope you will find it helpful in describing the connection between New York City and Manhattan. In this experiment the object on the slide is New York City while the close up view is that of Manhattan. The close up that we get of Manhattan allows us to view New York City as a whole. This is because Manhattan holds so many people with different styles and tastes and lives in such proximity that you feel like your experiencing the City as a whole. If one truly wants to experience New York City within a few blocks then I would lead you to St. Marks. As a caution though I must warn that experiencing St. Marks is an experience of sensory overload; your sense of hearing, touch and all your other senses are affected by this exploration of the city.
My personal experience of the city begins with the slow adjustment of my eyes from the gloominess of the subway station to the light of the streets of St. Marks. As my eyes have not yet reacted fully to what surrounds me my hearing senses are triggered as a defense mechanism that I now rely on as an animal in a jungle would rely on his as protection. Once the buzz from the passing train clears and you reach the top of the stairs into the street you hear the fleeting sound of cars. The swishing noise coming from the transient cars reminds me of the sound of a river flowing, the noise acts as a soother to my initial discomfort. The other piercing sound coming at you almost as an attack is all the noise of the people around you. As your walking past the foot traffic you hear bits and pieces of the whispered gossip that’s gets your attention and intrigues you enough to follow the annoying voices producing the gossip, so long as you’re not left wondering about the ending. The calls from the merchants standing by their stands full of accessories such as scarves and rings grab your attention. You go over to the stands and contemplate buying trivial things you know you don’t really need but at this moment seem as an essential memorabilia to your visit to the city. All of the sudden you feel like a tourist in need to capture the events of the day with a photo or souvenir. The most deafening noise of all though is the potency of the energy swirling around you as the work week is finally coming to an end.
Your eyes also provide you with the knowledge that you are most defiantly in New York City as opposed to any other city in the world. Above all your eyes register the difference in the people surrounding you in the streets. As your waiting for the street light to change from “don’t walk” to “walk” you can be standing next a middle aged man who looks like he’s running off to an important meeting in a suit and on your other side you can have a teenage girl who can be described to what is known to us as a punk or a rocker, dressed all in black like she’s awaiting a funeral and who has bright pink streaks in her hair. The combination of the people who all have different styles and experiences remind us of why we love New York City so much. As you walk down St. Marks you notice all the shops around you, how different they all are and show a bit of how we as people are different with our wants and desires. No matter what season you may be in the swirls of color around you can astound you. Something else that you might notice about this city is that even at night there never seems to be complete darkness. There are always lights on somewhere and people walking by in the streets rushing off somewhere.
As you pass by the various people in the streets a sense of yours immediately picks up things about people that your eyes might not have caught. As your nose catches the scent of filth it leads you eyes in search of the offender. Your eyes might not have caught the old man lying by the gate next to the park at first, but your nose most defiantly has identified his constant presence in the area. On the bright side your sense of smell also picks up the more pleasant aroma’s… food. The strong intuition you have to follow the aroma lead you place’s that your eyes might have skipped over in your rush through the crowds.
The lingering smell in your memory leads your body to trigger your taste buds to life. On Avenue A and St. Marks you’ll find that you have a choice between sushi and pizza right across from each other. The battle of your taste buds begins, the winning choice will lead to the enjoyment of your choice of what seems to be the most scrumptious food of the moment. You can also find an Italian restaurant, a Puerto Rican importing company along with café’s as an option for your senses.
As you’re enjoying your food your sense of touch comes into play and you notice the way different food feels to your fingers. You might also find yourself noticing the feel coldness of the utensils you’re using to eat your food. As you walk out of the restaurant you feel a sense of connection to the hundreds of other New Yorkers that have touched that same door handle as you are now touching. Back on the streets, in the crowd your body senses the touch of as others rub against you as you pass each other by. As you’re passing the throng of people you might notice that some have tattoos on their body and your body becomes acutely aware of the feel of ink on the body that is there to stay forever. The most essential touch that you feel as your walking in the city though is the feeling of the never ending energy buzzing.
My experience of the city through all of my senses reminds me why I keep coming back for more. My appreciation and love for this city arises in that you’ll never find anywhere else that is quite this diverse. No matter how different we are from our cultures to what we eat at the end of the day we are all New Yorkers. We share the same experience of cars swishing past us, and have to endure the ever present smell of the bums on the streets, but that is the quintessential experience of a walk through New York.