It's a blistering day in the city; the humidity is so thick you could cut it with a switchblade.
Early this morning, Annie and I made it to 163rd Street when the "A" train was evacuated due to flooding on the tracks. Once above ground, we quickly discovered that all trains had stopped running. Think about that. In a city of over 8 million people, the Metro Transit Authority had virtually shut down.
Soon pedestrians filled the streets, frantically flagging down cabs and searching for buses, but within minutes, those were no longer options. We continued downtown on foot, holding hands, maneuvering through puddles, Annie coming up with solutions like, "We should just take a limo!" We complained about the heat and commiserated with passersby; after all, it's what New Yorkers do.
"Damn city...no problem raising fares... can't handle a little rain... might as well go home... no one's getting to work today..."
We finally made it to Annie's camp on 141st Street, but I still had an appointment on 10th Street in an hour and a job at Grand Central after that. I made calls to say I'd be late, but it seemed that everyone would be late today; most would not be making it in at all.
Now, I'm no quitter, and something about the heat makes me want to push through what stands in my way, so I flipped on my shades and started walking downtown. I kept my eyes open for a bus but only one passed, people packed in like sardines as it flew by without stopping. I tried in to hail a cab, but they too were filled. I had a long way to go but soon the heat ceased to intensify my desire to move forward, and as I stood under a brutal Harlem sun, sweat-soaked clothes sticking to my skin, I decided to turn back and head home.
Almost three hours had passed when I boarded a bus headed west, then continued my way north in an air-conditioned cab for the last leg of my trip. I stopped at the market for an iced coffee and a chat with Sally, contemplated the oat bran muffins with a friendly opera singer, then got out of the heat and into a shower.
I missed my appointment, I missed work, and I'll certainly miss the money I'll pay the driver to pick up Annie today. But I love New York, I just do, and though I may not live here forever, for some inexplicable reason, it will forever live in me.