I wake in the middle of the night knowing something in the air has changed. The neighborhood has reached a silence that can only mean one thing. I wait for it in the dark with nothing but the sound of my own breath, and finally…there. There it is.
Another season quietly arrives in the predawn hours on the tail of the setting moon, and I can no longer sleep. Alert with anticipation, I stare into the shadows.
Hello old friend.
This is the New York I love. In these fragile moments, suspended in time, the city reveals its secrets in a language only those paying attention will ever come to understand. Here, in the quiet, she speaks. And, I listen.
I listen to the way the floorboards bend and creek as the heat starts to flow, slowly winding its way from beneath the earth, through ancient passageways and exhausted pipes until it reaches the radiator. My radiator. I find comfort in the hiss that brings the dormant space to life, in the smell of hot metal and chipped wood, that smell that only lingers in historic buildings. There’s comfort in its history, in the whispers and hisses from the past that crackle back to life connecting you with all who came before and all of the dreamers that surround you today, in this city, on this night.
I find comfort in these signs that winter is here, and once again all is right and magical in the city.
There’s little romance in simply turning the heat on, pressing a button, flipping a switch for the convenience of modernity. The sound is different. Electronic. Trapped. Lifeless. The smell is different, sterile yet wreaking of burnt insulation. But, it’s a love/hate relationship we share with this modernity. After all, a New Yorker isn’t truly a New Yorker without that buried-deep contrary nature. It’s what makes us dreamers, romantics, and why we’re built to walk the line a place like this demands.
Love – Hate.
Past – Present.
Dreams – Reality.
Isn’t it all the same?
I can feel the warmth now, my connection growing stronger as everyone else sleeps. And, I laugh.
This love affair is fleeting.
I know that tomorrow, all New Yorkers, including myself, will moan and complain about the damn cold and that damn radiator. It will be too hot, and I will curse my sweat-soaked sheets. It will be too cold, won’t come on, and my once steaming cup of coffee will sit frozen next to it. Yet…
I need you. I love you. I hate you. I love you.
I will to turn to you for comfort. Your warmth, your love language – you somehow bring hope. Don’t ask me how or why. Not one of us could ever really explain the insanity of our love/hate relationship with our stupid radiators, just as we cant explain our fiery love/hate relationship with this city.
Maybe we’re all hopeless romantics. Maybe we’re all just as crazy as you think. Maybe it’s just me. But I will, nonetheless, continue to embrace the calmness and connection with that hissing decrepit thing in the corner and let my mind wander through time.
New York, I am at this moment a part of you, and you will always be a part of me.