5 Miles (still here)


Newtown Creek is in some ways an unlovely body of water in a crowded place, but it is also possible to stand for a moment on the John Jay Bryne bridge and see the clouds reflected in the water and the distant skyline and no other people at all and feel at peace, or, at least calm in the face of whatever is to come.

And there’s life here, of course, even beyond the activity that undergirds all this accumulation. I saw a Ruddy Duck in this water last week. This morning there were Canada Geese in the stamped-down grass, and a flock of pigeons—bound to a single roof—rose and fell and were so beautiful against the sky.

I’ve lived in Greenpoint now for many years, and New York itself for even more. The people who first introduced me to this area are gone now; some of the places I used to visit are also gone, those vistas closed to me. I think sometimes, all the time, what does it mean to be connected to a place that cannot possibly reflect me? It is a jumble of concrete and historic water and chain-link fence and old rectangular cobble stones in piles, and why am I still here? Why does this sight still make me happy? Now, I think there is something to be said about letting ones’ self off the hook. Our feet draw us where they will. 


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