I notice when I'm walking gargoyles on buildings or some cornerstone or plaque that gives an account of someone who live on this site, or perhaps a battle or a notable hanging. These artifacts dot New York and even the best guides overlook many of them--they're too unimportant, too workaday to remark upon.
When I was younger my walking pace was faster. I walked to get someplace. But now, and thanks to Whiskey, my eight-month-old golden retriever, I don't walk to get anyplace. In fact, I often walk to avoid getting anyplace. I walk to walk. To collect my thoughts. To exercise my pup. To think things through. I walk not to a destination but to see where I will go. It's a different kind of walking, a kind I think not enough people engage in.
Last night was cold and clear in New York and Dame Insomnia whispered once again in my ear and bid me to rise. I complied, but because I was tired, I went into the living room and did some work. I wrote two commercials for a pitch my partner and I are working on and I e'ed them to my art director. Now, Insomnia had done her job completely. Now I was wholly and thoroughly up.
Though Whiskey was sleeping quietly in her crate, I laced up my sneakers, put on my heavy oil skin against the cold, snapped Whiskey's leash on her collar and headed out into the late night.
It was 3 when we hit the street and there was an odd quiet in the city. Even the local Bacchanal establishment, a beer-soaked bar called, simply, Saloon, was without its noisy smokers outside. The cabs on quiet York Avenue were few and far between. Everything was closed except for a lonely fruit stand up the avenue, in case someone needs a persimmon at four a.m.
Whiskey and I headed east to the river and wended north against the tide of the outflowing river. We walked slowly, Whiskey looking for rats or mischief, me just walking to see what I could see.
Whiskey and I walked past Gracie Mansion, past the boat lift at 96th Street, past the high-arching footbridge to Wards' Island, up to the decrepit pier at 107th. We turned back there and walked, quietly and uneventfully home.