I am back in New York for a few days, speaking clean English, eating real pizza, blowing out birthday candles on a late, delicious cake.
The city smells like laundry soap, and those cornucopia steam tables – of watermelon and sesame chicken. It reeks of cigarettes and stale beer as I travel beneath a midday sun. It is coffee and bacon from Eisenbergs.
Everyone is checking everyone out, sizing each other up like we’re about to fight, or pitch a pathetic one-liner, or get asked out on a date.
I walk up and down the city, catching bits of conversations in French, and German. I hear someone speaking Russian and my ears perk up like a terrier. I turn and follow these strangers down Church Street until I know what they are doing here.
People stop me and ask for directions to the World Trade Center, to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Guys are leaning out of cars, calling to girls in short skirts. Children are running under sprinklers on a playground.
The city smells like a clean shirt.