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From an Old Familiar Score

The icy crunch of compacted snow below feet is a familiar sound. Don’t bother wearing your Sunday’s best as the mixture of water, sand, salt and more than likely bodily fluids will wear through even the finest of Italian leather. It can bore holes in your sole (or soul depending on how faux deep you want to get).

No longer a resident of the Northeast, but a now frequent visitor, I know the song and verse well. It goes something like this: feel the thrill of NYC upon landing wherein the possibilities of what’s to come are endless…wrap scarfs around necks…tie boots up tight…head out into the night hoping to catch a view of a beautiful person or just the sight of my breath against the cold. As I am here most always for work, I am greeted with the brevity of a few hours for a night or two to enjoy the city I once could leisurely spend days in with no threat of work or bills or responsibility for that matter.

I finished off another round of drinks with an old friend and say goodbye. We laughed and cried during those drinks, and I can’t say in which order as I don’t recall, but I’ll miss him until our paths cross again once more. The dive that we partook at is about 40 blocks from where I am staying tonight. My thoughts race briefly as to whether a cab or an Uber would be easiest. As my fingers trace over the app icon on my phone…my fingers, as if uncontrolled by myself…instead head over to a favorite music streaming app consisting of carefully curated playlists. I enter the portal…scroll down to find a self-made Woody Allen soundtrack big band jazz playlist and hit play. Headphones on. Hoodie up. 40 blocks to go…

Don’t tell me about New Orleans and jazz…if I want to habitually find my foot in human waste I can either go to New Orleans and take a stroll down any block or I can just stay home and step in pee puddles from my dog or kid. The latter is easier and far cheaper. No, I prefer to take my jazz with an equal measure of NYC, like a Campari with equal parts of all libations. The moment the music plays in your ears while walking down a block you are no longer in the City, you are in the City in your head. All sepia toned or black-and-white. Hoods looking for dames. Suit jackets against gray pavement. “I Happen to Like New York” – Bobby Short – mainstay at the Carlyle Café “I like the sight and sound and even the stink of it…” 30 blocks to go…

Headphones on and now I am imagining the years prior spent in this City, finding back alleys and off –streets in the Village; shoulders deep in crates of records off Bowery to try and find that long-lost gem I never knew I needed. I look up at the sky while walking, as the streets tend to be a bit sparser at 3:00AM. I see the hazy light above in the clouds. “Moonlight Serenade” – Glenn Miller – reminds me that you can see that hanging piece of rock too even if you’re a thousand miles away, and suddenly New York City is not as big as it pretends to be. 20 blocks to go…

I almost take a tumble on the slick sidewalks, a bit of black ice. It’s fine…no one saw it and thus no need to play it off. Film scenes race through my head as I pass the Waldorf among other landmarks. Give me anything below 14th street and I’m fine…but I get it…the old stalwarts are that for a reason. Yes there is a bit of magic in the air at these old places – also moth balls if you ask me. I could envision a couple of us at the Hotel bar with martinis in hand. I can because we did it; it was real…but probably will never exist again except in my dreams. “I’ve Heard That Song Before” – Harry James – “It’s funny how a theme, recalls a favorite dream…” need I say (or sing) more? 10 blocks to go…

My steps slow as I know I am getting closer to my destination. The city is just about to wake up as I am going to lie down. Early morning workers, street vendors and public servants all are starting their day while the rest of us are off in Neverland. I raise a closed, cold fist in solidarity as if my night of beers was my duty to the city. If so, I executed flawlessly. I heard that you may be up in the City a week after I’m here…I take out a pen from my bag and find an empty piece of building to scratch out a note, in the off attempt you go looking for me or my whereabouts in this metal jungle as you knew I was here before you. If you do happen to stumble across this message, on this building, on this block, in this borough, in this City you will find it reads the following: “If Dreams Come True.” (Chick Webb). I hope you find it – I know you’ll know what I mean. Goodnight.

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