A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 7: A Subway-to-Broadway Adventure

July 3rd · No Comments

I’m at the Starbucks on 75th Street again, beating the mean streets of Craigslist for furniture. The teenager at the next table is having a sulky cellphone argument with his mother, who, I gathered, was of the opinion he should leave New York and get a job. “There aren’t any marketing jobs in Philly, Ma,” he protested. “Besides, all I know how to do is lifeguard. You know that.”

A set of barstools are listed for sale on Broadway that are intriguing, and that means I’ll have to brave the subway by myself for the first time. I walk to 68th and Lexington by Hunter College and get on the 6 Line toward 63rd, where I’ll transfer lines. But this train doesn’t stop at 63rd. I escape at 59th and press my back against the wall, amid the throngs of travelers, hoping that no one notices the puzzlement with which I examine my transit map. It is an etch-a-sketch of meaningless colors, letters and numbers.

I make one more wrong transfer, then blunder onto the right train, the R Line toward Bay Ridge. I take a deep breath. This car is an oasis of calm with just a few other souls, a guy twitching his head violently to an iPod, a pale woman with a scarf on her shaved head and a beatific smile on her face – cancer, I’d guess – and an Italian woman set to burst out of her skimpy white blouse.

I step out at 34th and Broadway and the intersection is a teeming throng! I’ve seen crowds like this in movies about New York, but I assumed the director was padding the scene with lots of extras. A regular street can’t be that crowded. But here everyone is, bustling by at 5:30 pm on a Thursday. It would take a seriously enormous street fair in San Francisco to pack people in like this.

I find the building and ride up the elevator with two teenage Chinese girls in pastel pink blouses.

The chairs are at a used furniture store that is also a dance studio. The receptionist, a French girl named Delfina, shows me from room to room. Each is lined with slightly battered pieces of furniture, and in each a sinuous woman in a skirt is teaching a guy to tango or a couple to foxtrot, while I tiptoe around and examine the coffee tables.

I decide to buy the barstools – now I just need to figure out how to get them home. I ride down the elevator with two Chinese boys in pastel yellow Izod shirts.

Where did the Chinese pastel people come from? It’s just another inexplicable fact of New York.

Tags: Personalities · Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

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