This has been a weird week, right? On Monday it felt like Thursday practically and Wednesday felt like two weeks from now. In a bad way. Monday through Wednesday were bad and I did not like them. But last night, when I was walking home around 8, it was this really perfect temperature outside (36, which is good for needing neither gloves nor a hat but never getting warm enough that you can afford to walk slowly), and I was thinking about how much I really love winter, even though whenever I tell anyone here that they say no, I don’t love winter, I just tolerate it better than other people. Don’t tell me what I love! I really do love winter, at least through January.
I stopped at this bakery I went to during my first week here — when Chiara was trying to soothe me, I think, with the fact that at the very least, this city has sugar — and bought myself a treat (one I felt I was owed because of the bad Monday-Wednesday) and walked away having a nice “New York is not so bad” moment on the street in the cold. It was such a quick and unexpected good mood that I think my face must have looked crazily happy. This is the only explanation I have for the guy wearing earphones, walking as quickly as I was, who raised his coffee to me when we passed each other on the sidewalk. I interpreted this weird little salute very dramatically, like he was saying “It’s OUR time now, the start of winter, when the weak may suffer but you and I will thrive,” and when I passed him I started walking even faster. (This happens to me sometimes, rarely, that I get so happy I feel like running. On the very few times I have actually started to run, I have realized my mistake almost immediately. Running is terrible. So instead I usually just walk a bit faster.)
This weird, manic joy lasted for half a block more, until a rat scurried out from behind a corner and ran right by my feet. I stopped walking to say “Oh, GOD” and shake my hands out, which happened reflexively, like I’d touched it. There were two other people near me on the street and neither of them said anything or even slowed down. A block more after THAT I came upon a woman screaming at her boyfriend on the phone. “YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT MOTHERFUCKER,” she yelled, and people on both sides of the street turned around to look. It went on like this for a while — we were walking in the same direction — and at one point she yelled “No I do NOT want twenty dollars!” which made me laugh, because what if that’s how her boyfriend always tries to end their arguments? “Look, do you want twenty dollars.” (God, that would actually be really infuriating. It’s no wonder she didn’t care if all of Chinatown heard her.)
Anyway, I was still happy when I got home, even if in a tempered way, and I think that means I’m adjusting to this new normalcy scale. But I hope not too much. Because I do not think it is normal to not say anything when you see a rat on the sidewalk. I think if you see a rat on the sidewalk and other people are around, someone should be like “Ahh, did you see that rat?” and the other people should be like “Ew, yes, god,” because then at least you have something in common.