Winter (not Autumn) in New York City. Snow (if you can call it that) on the ground, Christmas shoppers hitting the 5th Avenue boutiques, people hurrying home from a day in...well, wherever. Late 2001.
I was leaving a white-collar office job, a job at an extremely reputable company that you've probably heard of (a company that has now, apparently, imploded) heading out to the far reaches of Queens County where, for the time, I lived with my girlfriend.
There were two ways to get to the middle of nowhere that I called home from work: the subway and the express bus. The subway was a nightmare of underground transfers - the N to the L at Union Square and a bus from the Myrtle Avenue L station home, a commute of such jaw-clenching proportions that it included a wait of at least 25 minutes, standing like a shivering statue (cold? What cold? Don't see no cold here) under the JMZ trestle while my bus driver, toasty warm, read the paper before his scheduled departure, seemingly oblivious to our creaking joints and aching heads.
The express bus, on the other hand, was a straight shot from 58th Street and 5th Avenue to my front door. Heaven on wheels, it was, but cost twice as much. The bus was therefore a lower middle-class luxury, at least for me - I can confidently say that I got my job, not through skill or experience, but by underbidding everyone else who applied by at least three dollars an hour. Trust me, it wasn't intentional.
I don't know how familiar you are, gentle reader, with New York City in winter, but let me tell you: it's magical. Snow and sleet make the city ephemeral like it's being filmed through gauze while still retaining all the clarity of vision that cold, crisp night air can bring. People dissolve into topcoats and hats and, sometimes, umbrellas; faceless but personal. It's like 1955 but with more advertising and (I assume) busier streets, dirtier sidewalks and quieter surroundings.
See, that 'city that never sleeps' thing is propagated by banks that want you to think that they're always there for you. New York sleeps from October to March and is up (staring at the sky and wishing the antidepressants were less effective) from April to September. November on 5th Avenue 'round closing time is like watching the first five minutes of every christmas movie you've ever seen, just with skyscrapers and six-hundred dollar handbags. It's quiet.
It's So Fucking Quiet you wonder what you're doing there, actually. You feel like you're disrupting something important, like someone's about to give a speech or a half-naked women with a bigass torch is about to run by. People seem to be waiting for something to happen and it feels like you, in all your insignifigance, are getting in their way. They're waiting for spring, of course, but you wouldn't guess that by looking at them. As far as they're concerned, spring is one of those things that doesn't happen all that often, like a proclamation from Mount Olympus or possibly a farewell lunch on the company's dime.
Point is, the quiet surrounds and envelops, eating away at the background noise that we take for granted until we don't quite remember it anymore.
And through all this...wonder, through all this beauty and grace and the 'what the fuck happened to the grit, the noise, the obnoxiousness, to MY fucking city' there walked me, a 21-year-old nobody gettin' shafted by the man, wishing I could afford to take the express bus every day of my life until I eventually suffocated, my face pressed to the gaudy purple cushions and trying to remember what it was, exactly, that I loved about New York.
Three Libras is a song by Perfect Circle on their seminal album Mer de Noms. The song sounds like New York City winters to me. Your milage may vary.