One of my first posts once I arrived to Rome in January was about water. L’aqua naturale. So, fittingly, back state-side I’m ruminating over water again. Don’t call it a fixation.
I’ve already explained how I work in the Dumbo district of Brooklyn. This is the area hugged between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. It’s bound on one side by the East River. It boasts the shade of the bridges as header and footer and the river as a bedskirt. Therefore, because of mere convenience and sheer impressiveness, I sit or walk and take in the view of the river-bridge-downtown combo view so stacked in front of me.
I sit and watch the waves of the river toy with the pebbles on the banks. I watch barges barge down it. I watch people lean against the railing and contemplate the view. I wonder what they’re wondering. I wonder what the water is to them. What is the sight? Is it neutralized with each viewing? Are they accustomed to it? Is this just another morning cup of coffee? Will it become so to me?
The East River. It feels like the ocean. But, then again, that’s because it is daringly close to one. As a girl who has grown up on the Arkansas River, the idea of a full, flowing river, consistent in the fact that it’s there, always, is a new concept. Rivers are supposed to be dry, aren’t they? Don’t they all have sand bars? Apparently not.
And now ocean: On Sunday, Nikki the roommate and her friends, my new friends, and I went to Brighton Beach, just down shore from (in)famous Coney Island. The city and Brooklyn had become rather hot in the previous few days (a fact that forced Nikki and me to haul up the window AC unit and precariously and Sisyphus-like push it into my window). Now I understand the scene in The Great Gatsby when Daisy gets so flustered by the heat. You can’t think.
So, the beach sounded like a marvelous idea. Brighton is easily reached by the B/Q train in about 20 min. Hop on it, as the waves call. Ironically, we hopped off and were greeted by blustering winds. The ocean is windy. Windier than the city. Refreshing yes, but not beach weather.
The water though rolled in heavier, stronger waves than the East. This is the ocean. Here is the scale. This is the Manhattan to the Brooklyn. This is the big boy water. This is unbounded. This is the globe’s negative space. This, only a 20 minute train ride away. The East River, only a two minute walk away from my desk. Water, surrounding.
And, rain. The intermittent heat becomes intermittent with rain. Just yesterday, it rained. It poured, intermittently – as I walked to my morning train to be specific. I wore a rain jacket and popped open my umbrella. I abandoned my sandals to the idea that they would never be dry again. As I walked down the stairs into the Franklin Ave C subway stop there appeared a small lake at the bottom. No walkways. No bridges. No canoes. The only way through this one, was just that, through. Franklin Subway C Lake, now open to water sports.
So that’s it. Water. Everywhere. At every ending and every beginning. In my subway stop, falling from the sky, down the street, my lunchtime companion, my weekend sight. Water is purification, baptism. So, fittingly, at this beginning, this New York beginning, it makes its presence so known.
When it is so hot, the water is right there, a reminder of intermittence. A reminder of the wave-nature of things. It is a reminder of traversing. Some things seem like oceans – beautiful or terrible, both in both ways completely undigestible, uncrossable. Some things are like rivers – strong, flowing, alive, linear. Here the task is to build the bridge, to connect the sides. And then other things are like subway lakes – annoyances, small, but entirely too big even in their smallness. Gross. Inconvenient. And, ironically, these are the things that you must walk right through the middle. But then, the next day, they’re gone. And the sandals dry out. They do. They did.