Is it the evening, or the early morning? Are you here, or heading here to meet with an old friend, someone who you need to see again over fumes of coffee and little white saucers and plates of toast? Are you even here, in this city? Is this a memory, of walking by, thinking of this other life in which you could be meeting your friend?
Is this an evening where you are alone, and the streets of the city seem impossibly full of your yearnings, impossibly indifferent to them?
Do you have the sense that you might hail that cab, get in, go somewhere?
Where would you go? Maybe you want to go sightseeing, maybe you’re heading uptown to the apartment of that friend of yours, you have a bottle of wine twisted in brown paper under your arm.
Perhaps, actually, you’re not bound by the city, by the rules of streets pressing around you. Perhaps you are heading somewhere else entirely. To a place where no cabs can go. Towards utter soundlessness:
Towards winter. You can wander the woods without feeling the cold. The light never changing. You can feel fearful. Or calm. You can walk down the promenade of trees, imagining an old road there, a lumber road, a track to an old cabin that stands on a jut of granite, with views across the snow bound valley. The dark, white pines and some mountains beyond, or some open plain, or tundra, or a city – impossibly, that same New York City, where all those people live but you, who have chosen another path, or not –
Or you might look up from your coffee in the restaurant, from your friend’s chatter. Might look out the window and see, across the road, a wooded mountain, and up high a tiny figure, looking down, who turning once, disappears into a black wood cabin. And the clatter of the busy room might then return to you, now altered.
Though either way, it was as if you never had that other, fantastical choice. That this silence, this endless city din and company, was the only way things could ever be.