Somewhere among E.B. White and Adam Gopnik there is Cord Jefferson:
I’ve never felt more important than when I lived in New York. I was poor and my work was neither very good nor very well-read, and yet every day I’d wake up in my 10 by 10 room, its window looking out over my building’s rusted trashcans, and somehow think I’d achieved another great victory. …. Eventually my fellow New Yorkers started to feel more like teammates than neighbors. The tumult the City throws in your way daily engenders a sense of community the way getting its ass kicked on a rink might galvanize a hockey team. Stuff like complaining about real estate — the price of it, the rotten brokers, the changing neighborhoods — is like a secret handshake for New Yorkers, thrown out quickly to differentiate between those in the know from everyone else, who probably talk about reality television at dinner. Then there’s the knowing nods from strangers on the street in times of extreme heat or cold, their meaning being “This shit again.” In the cases of literal shit, like when I saw an old lady pooping on the street by my office, there’s the “What are you gonna do?” shrug New Yorkers give one another. At the sight of the pooping woman, I heard a man to my left say to his horrified companion, “It’s, like, New York, y’know?”
Still. We do. We love NYC.
This week my cello and I had to ride the C Train with Giants fans. Unrelated to the parade, it needed to go uptown for some repairs. As I rode, smashed together: me, giant awkward case, Giants fans, flags, shirts, yelling, mashing, directionless, in a direction, in cold sweat, past 14th Street, 34th Street, 42nd Street Station, I realized I had had a choice. I was on the subway. I was not in the privacy and softness of a taxi. We were on the subway. Huddled together. Together in motion. Well, almost. The train was stopped. “Unfamiliar objects on the tracks ahead.” But nobody stopped. The chatter moved on. Fan, flag, woman, cello. We rode along together as the train lurched forward again. Because we are all teammates.