By: Gabriela Yareliz
Change is in the air, I was telling my friend Nikki not long ago. Sometimes, you just sort of feel it. We have had sunny days that hint at spring. They remind me of the hours I spent wandering the West Village toward the library on Leroy St. to go watch the shadows as the sun hit the corners of the sidewalk and public pool just right.
Last Sunday was cold. The kind of cold that settles a blanket of stillness over everything and ends in magical dancing flurries as the gray sky turns black. But then, the weather fluctuates, and it’s sunny. The influencer wives of rich old men wear their trending cat eye sunglasses as if a memo has been sent out. There is a warmth that makes me dizzy and makes me regret wearing the leggings under my pants while I ride the subway, pressed up against a flimsy door and a woman clutching a bunch of plantains in a clear bag.
Do people sense the change in the air? I wonder as I sit on the train next to someone in a shiny plastic coat that squeaks every time she or I moves. We all do our best to ignore each other, except for the man sitting across the way from me, who has decided to make me his focal point. Maybe he is dizzy, too, I rationalize. Maybe he is trying hard to focus or not throw up. I shift my eyes back down to my Kindle, feeling his eyes on me, still. I look up again and make direct eye contact as an act of slight defiance. (Very me) I then turn my attention to a group of children with geriatric parents. (Very Brooklyn)
Thank God for the warming weather. There is no place I have seen more than NYC where people underdress their children. I can’t count how many children I see wandering around in frigid temperatures without a jacket or socks. It’s a strange thing. The kid will have a hat or a t-shirt but no jacket. Now, nature will help keep these children warm. I think about this as I spot an exception to the general observation. A little child bundled like the Michelin Man.
Some people jump into the train without a mask and then fumble to pull one over their faces. Others step on confidently without and smile. Some are masked up to their eyeballs, and they judge those who step on without and use their eyes to direct the object of their judgment to the advertisement/propaganda banners above us, hanging like gargoyles, that have been vandalized and covered with inappropriate stickers. The air is thick with psychological warfare, silent but loud communication and irritation. More people step on, and others step off. A door closing warning is issued.
When I reemerge for air, the sidewalks are packed with women bagging cilantro and produce. The air smells like fish. I see buckets filled with ice sitting on the sidewalk. There are more people out than I have seen in recent time. A drunk man walks into the gate of a notary service/psychic storefront that is currently closed. He hesitates and then tries again.
I shuffle into the intersection and feel the sun. Every day, we face different weather but so much more is fluctuating. Spring, our new beginning, is just days away. I glance into a sneaker shop that has its gate half up and see its colorful spring merchandise in the window.
It’s clear we are all stepping into something new.