On occassion I write without objective; just observations that spill out and occupy themselves in my mind’s scrapbook. Sometimes I stumble across these words and they are like a warm sweater on a cold day.
The grass is at its prime in Central Park – just having drunk three days worth of spring showers. Like a fresh haircut, the blades dance in the wind, glints of sun, like glitter, are sprinkled throughout the Great Lawn.
Overdressed in my late winter parka, I walk amongst the athletes, the tourists, the private high school kids in phys ed. Children run one step in front of the nannies – yet one step behind the mommies on the Blackberries.
I walk behind a little Indian boy and his extended family of four. He too is overdressed. The outer most layer is a red quilted vest on top of a sweater concealing at least three more layers. The would-be grandma chases him with a tissue; the grandpa fumbles with a digital camera. I witness the older generation try to catch up – with youngsters, with technology. They walk around trying to be knocked down by unpredictability.
My thighs start to heat up as I walk, cooking under the tight blanket of denim in the afternoon sun. I find a seat on the inviting grass and unload my lime green spiral-bound Staples notebook. I scribble a bit but get easily distracted.
A dad in a leather blazer, pink button down, 1980s Ray Bans a la Tom Cruise, and loafers brings his three-year-old red-headed son for a day in the park. Within seconds the boy’s shoes are flying through the air. The divorced dad (no ring and wandering eyes) breaks out the catcher’s mitt. So cliché. The boy wears a Manning jersey. He throws the baseball and it lands three feet from me. I smile and look away into my notebook.
An old Hasidic Jew walks on the perimeter of the park. He’s even more overdressed than me – black wool hat and coat. My ensemble ended with the black coat.
Couples abound in various flavors. The young and seemingly in love plop their asses on the ground and intertwine their appendages into a game of Twister for two. Another couple comes in bathing suits and bring a blanket, a cooler and cell phones equipped for two. He stands up, low-rise jeans hanging below his waist. (Is this still fashionable from the late 90s or is it back?) He walks away to chat on the phone. Stretching his arms up as in salute to the sun – his boxers riding up about 4” above his jeans. He looks around. This one will always be looking around. The girl, in the meantime, takes this opportunity to rotate onto her stomach – wiggle her ass in the air and check her phone all the same. All to show him – “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Either that or – “I got options.”
NYC is all about options. You’ve got options – a plethora of options. For everything. Bars, restaurants, shows, men, women, jobs, apartments.
It isn’t long until the dad of the red headed boy is on the ground – leaning on his elbow, and scrolling through his Blackberry. No one is ever here anymore. Everyone is in a chess game – always two steps ahead – trying to predict the future. Predict your opponents’ actions. Make all the right moves – win the game. We really are never taught the art of losing.
Another couples makes their home in my quadrant. Middle-aged and wealthy – they are finding their happiness on top of a cashmere throw and drinking red wine. They wear the uniform: khaki pants and matching white polo shirts. Getting buzzed under the spring sun – their eyes escape some sadness that has no monetary solution. Like Kleenex for the soul – they take a big gulp of the vino and lean back on their elbows to sun their faces.
Crowds of baseball-clad school kids stampede the field in shades of crimson, gold, navy and white, all proudly representing their overpriced educational abodes. Kids these days wear their elementary school brands on their apparel – a walking endorsement to go with their parents’ tuition checks of over $35K.
Strollers parade around the park as if from a 64 box of Crayola Crayons. Huge ones, umbrella ones, funky space age ones, overpriced ones. A flavor for every taste.
The wind blows and from the trees, “snow” falls, the remnants of the dried flower petals. They create a white runner on the carpet of mulch.
Within half an hour, the boy and the dad are rolling around about arms distance from me. The clouds are moving quicker as the wind picks up. I’m happy for my extra layers.
A teenage girl on rollerblades slows down and turns around to make sure she’s not skating too fast for the older man who’s following her. She spins around as if being watched, if only by her audience of one, and almost loses her balance. She adjusts and moves forward with a new-found need to prove her skill. A group of hardcore skaters follow her; a beacon on wheels.
An overweight woman, inappropriately dressed in spandex, makes her home within 10 yards of me. She lays down on her fluorescent orange shmata and rolls up her tight black shirt to just below her boobs. She proceeds to hike up her leggings for what I could only gather to be “calf sunning.” As she rolls around on her back, she rubs her jiggly belly a bit. The white flesh seems so bright on the green grass. When I finally walk away, I could still see her like an X on a treasure map. The Jelly Belly Lady on the Great Lawn.