The Crossroads of the World

Vibrations reverberated through my body. But they were of quiet sounds, somehow. The whispers of night wind. The rapid beating of my own heart. The incoherent chattering of a thousand people. The noise tickled my ears as more people condensed at the crosswalk, awaiting the permissive green hand. Each person weaved along in his own direction, glancing every few seconds at a phone or wristwatch to check the time and then quickening his pace. Faceless individuals bumped me as they passed, but apologies were either carelessly abandoned or forgotten. No one had time to stop and think of another. Each was consumed in his own schedule.

Icy December air filled my lungs. The immenseness of the city overwhelmed me. Lights flashed as words danced across buildings and signs. Illumination. The electricity was palpable. Waves of energy penetrated my body. “Mama Mia!” cried one sign, a laughing Mexican woman tossing a pizza beside the words. Disney proclaimed its own name with fancy letters that promised secrets and magic. How had these dull gray streets, cluttered by newspapers flittering in the breeze, transformed into an inspiring clash of colors and lights, people and cars? And all after sunset? Soft melodies from Phantom of the Opera floated through my mind, reminding me of night’s mysteries. Slowly, gently night unfurls its splendor; Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender. Turn your face away from the garish light of day… The Moon assumed power, her flowing cape of brisk air tied around her neck. …And listen to the music of the night.

The Sun would have been ashamed to witness the lights here; but he brightened the other side of the world now—self-consumed and shining light on those he assumed had so desperately missed his presence. Little did he know of the fantastic amazement brought on by the Moon—one he considered so lowly, only a reflector of his fiery composition and magnificence. Little had I known of the Moon’s magic. Yet she was not so grand in her own mind, either. She had never ruled boldly. Her countenance proved serene and delicate—graceful. She contentedly looked upon activity bustling beneath her.

And I stood watching with her, amidst the sparkling lights and chaos. I groped for my iPod in my backpack. My fingers met the cold glass screen and plastic case and I soon held it up, camera ready, wide-eyed, and mouth slightly ajar. I knew I looked like the tourist I was, but I didn’t care. I wanted something tangible—as a reminder. Yet my numerous attempts to properly focus the camera resulted in a dozen either over- or under- exposed image. Apparently night lights aren’t photogenic.

But I was soon dismayed, realizing that my camera never could have captured this. The ability simply didn’t exist. It couldn’t take in the crowd’s constant, fluid-like movements or the flashing lights. It couldn’t absorb the delightful senses dispersing through my body—the unrelenting sense of freedom and amazement. It couldn’t, as it had now, unleash my soul to embrace the universe. Nothing tangible could remind me of this night.

Now, lying in bed and snuggled under blankets, darkness consumes my exhausted figure. My mind slowly phases into the utopia-like symptoms of sleep. My muscles relax and the bed conforms to me. But my thoughts rush back to that night. Exhilaration. Flashing lights, flowing people. Exuberance, anticipation, awe. I can still feel the frigid air against my face and in my lungs, numbing my nose and fingers. I remember the security my scarf and coat provided. I am turning in circles, dazed by the neon lights—the lights that so strongly contrast the blackness of the empty sky and its lovely ruler, the Moon. I can’t speak. I don’t want to.