‘People like to say that cities are impersonal, that there’s nothing like a big city to make a person feel small. And, sure, when viewed from the top of a twenty-story building, I’m an ant, you’re an ant, everyone’s an ant.
Trust me, I know what it means to be small. I’m five feet tall and weigh about as much as your average sack of groceries, but for years, every time I walked down a city street, I could have sworn I expanded. I lost track of where I ended and the city began, and after a few blocks, I’d stretched to include the flower stand, the guy selling “designer” handbags on the corner, the skyscrapers’ shining geometry, the scent of roasting nuts, the cafe with its bowl of green apples in the window, and the two gorgeous shopgirls on break, flamingolike and sucking on cigarettes outside their fancy boutique, eyes closed, rapturous, as though smoke were very heaven.
I loved the noise, the opening my window to let a confetti of sound fly in. I loved how leaving my apartment, in pursuit of newspapers or bags of apricots or bagels so perfect they were not so much bagels as odes to gloss and chewiness, never just felt like going out, but like setting out, adrenaline singing in my veins, the unexpected glancing off storefronts, simmering in grates and ledges, pooling in stairwells, awaiting me around every corner, down every alleyway.
Imagine an enormous strutting peacock with the whole jeweled city for a tail.
But my peacock days didn’t last.’