I live for the first warm day of the year in New York City. All the coyote-trimmed Canada Geese go away, suddenly everyone’s facial muscles and shoulders are pulled up an eighth of an inch or so higher, couples lovingly hold hands, children run pell-mell with reckless abandon, and I resist the urge to hi-five people as I pass them in the street. Besides the stray bare ankle, the NYU/Parsons/Pratt/SVA/what-have-you freshman push it a little and wear skirts with no tights and are seen shivering at the street corners later in the day as the temperature drops. Soon there will be white utility buckets dripping with lilacs at every corner, and rose in every glass, and warmth every evening.
The part that I revel in most, though, is the way we regress in the new-found spring.
I did Remote New York this past weekend and I wouldn’t dream of spoiling anything for you, other than to say that it is truly a gift to be led around for two hours without having to make a single decision, but there is this point when Heather (a relative of Samantha) remarks that babies are unafraid to make eye contact with strangers and show their interest. As we age our eyes dart away as soon as our gaze overlaps with a stranger like a game of pinball. We check each other out and look away when the glance is returned, afraid to make eye contact, to show interest, to show vulnerability, maybe. This seems like something our eye muscles and egos just do….it’s universal to every place I’ve visited. But on one day a year, in New York City, after a long, cold winter, maybe without all those layers, old or young or married or single or straight or gay, we somehow get over our inhibitions and overtly and innocently check each other out.