When I have the time, I like to walk around the city, tourist-style, looking up at every tall building, every curious sight, even if I've already seen it a hundred times. Walking from Hunter College to China Town where I take the J train home, I allowed myself to enjoy the wealth of sounds I would've otherwise muted with my headphones. From the rushed chatter and hurried footsteps of midtown to the gusty serenity of Madison Square Park, where the repeated soft crunch of gravel beneath my foot was punctuated by barking coming from the dog park, I found that even the terribly chilly weather could not deter the infamously steely New Yorkers from making their trek through the city (and lining up for Shake Shack).
Union Square, usually bustling with farmers market vendors and shoppers, beggars and people working for some charity, fighting to get the attention of passersby, is remarkably hushed this day. Only the dull screech of the trains below and the hum of traffic spiraling the park fill the atmosphere. A little further down, I stop to rest at the base of the Silver Towers on Houston where I hear the dim crash of truck sounds as I close my eyes beneath the shadow of the residential skyscrapers. I hear the sound of footsteps approach and I snap up, wondering if it's a security guard telling me I'm trespassing (I am), but it's just a young woman, probably from NYU. I think my springing-up startled her and she walks past me in a hurry. I take that as a sign to move on so I continue southward, avoiding SoHo.
In China Town, there's the constant drone of conversation surrounding me. The cadence of the foreign speech energizes me as I make my way to the Canal street train station. But before I dip underground, I walk through Mott street, where many of my favorite restaurants are. I hear what sounds like bells, coming from the outside of one of the gift shops there. At the risk of sounding ignorant, it sounds like an instrumental Chinese song. The sound of the chimes reminds me of Christmas, my favorite time of year. My tired heart fills with warmth as I make my way home.