Friday, February 12, 2010

The Right Light

Below you'll find something I wrote the other day in my journal. Yes, I keep a journal; no, it's not a diary. It's more like a book with blank sheets of paper in which I write down things that inspire me or I find amusing or scary or hypocritical or beautiful. Sometimes, in this journal, I sketch scenes with words. The end product is usually something akin to a vignette. The following is one such vignette. I "sketched" it the other day while in a New York City office building. Enjoy.

Staring out a window on the 13th floor of a building in Manhattan. It’s around sundown. From this perch, looking down at 7th Avenue, south. The tall buildings, each about the same 20-story height, line one side of the avenue like soldiers. Manhattan is wonderful for its buildings, yes, but also for the shadows that the buildings cast on each other, at sundown.

Looking down 7th Avenue, noticing how those buildings lining one side of the street all seem to have the same shade of faded brown brick. Noticing the geometric shadows on the buildings. Noticing sundown’s sunlight too: where it hits the buildings, the faded bricks appear orange and warm.

Looking down this street, at these buildings bathed in patches of orange light, I’m able to actually start and feel the history in Manhattan. Looking at the tops of these relatively tall buildings, the step-backed terraces, the blind arcades, the deco spires, and think: sundown on this row of buildings probably looked the same 75 years ago. Just like this. High above the noise and the ads and the moving bodies below, sundown on these buildings probably looks the same now as it looked 100years ago or even 125 years ago, in 1885.

And as I look out, I feel a longing mixed with a sense of continuity. The right light has the tendency to inspire such feelings.