Passing (Numerous) Strangers
I chose to do the East Village poetry walk because I kept finding myself already there (even before this whole NYU thing). I don’t mean to imply that I didn’t want to venture far, but that I instead was interested in knowing the stories of the places in which I spend my time. And I wanted to do it early, setting out around 9:30 in the morning, hoping not to be distracted by the hustle of others. This proved to be difficult.
I started in a tiny produce market, stood outside what I believe was the beginning of a ballet class inside St. Mark’s, hovered over a few people’s late breakfasts, was intently watched by a young woman waiting for her Uber (I guess I was staring at her apartment building right as she came outside…), and seemed to be even more confronted with everyone than I am on any other given day.
And though I’m the one that took the train in from Brooklyn that morning, they all felt displaced to me. There’s a very nice rhythm created by the layers of poetry, music, and narration in Passing Stranger that you can find yourself wrapped up in. You’re busy looking for ghosts on fire escapes and moving to your own soundtrack. Everyone around you is still a part of that (they have no choice), but they’re all slightly off. They’re not in the right time. It’s like being bumped into while dancing – you don’t actually mind, but you’ve possibly been pulled out of a moment. That this moment was created by a walking tour? Is really quite lovely.
However, I will admit that it took a little time to let myself become completely absorbed. I hesitated before walking into the church yard and through the side door, absolutely did not go into the elementary school, had to resist the urge to check the map to make sure I wasn’t walking too fast and missing things (I wasn’t). I’m not new to the city so I always knew where I was and was confident I at least wouldn’t stroll into traffic, but allowing myself to be easily guided up stairs and down streets by the voice in the headphones? Did take a little faith…