Not long ago last week, I strode with purpose around Varick and Greenwich Streets when suddenly I entered the realm I call "Drop-Time": I was alone with multitudes for the long draft between one heartbeat and the next. (For my definition of "Drop-Time," click here).
I am not sure from whence or how the punctuation sprang, what the trigger was. A woman glanced at me imperiously as she crossed the street, her thousand-dollar boots stamping the zebra, her scarf as well-combed as her hair. Two men muttered about advertising rates, three colleagues joked about something as they waited in line at the lunch-truck (which claimed to purvey the world's best grilled cheese sandwiches). Every storefront a tableau glimpsed, my reflection mingling with the workers inside at the chocolatier's, at the deli, at the bank-that-was-almost-like-a-living-room. A hundred sharply defined details, a nose here, an eyebrow there, a spoon poised in mid-air between a bowl and a mouth, words, words, words on every surface; the colors of red and teal, maroon, angular black, lots of brick and yellow. Strips of conversation slid through the air, combined, unknotted, added a coating of words to the muted roar of the trucks on the Holland Tunnel approaches.
In Drop-Time, all those sensations slow into one enormous yet intimate moment, the enjambment between the worlds. I see everything and hear everything for that one instant, a great diastolic in-rush of sight and sound. Captured in the poetry of breathing, the flight of words above the reality of the people and places they describe. I taste the soup on the spoon, I know what is spoken at the truck of the grilled cheese sandwiches, I forgive the woman her arrogance.
Sunbeams frozen on the sidewalks. Down the side-streets, a diminishing perspective that ends in grey warehouses along the Hudson. Straitened vision that leads to Gjallar's Bridge with its dim pallor, and the prospect of a ferry across the river towards sunset.
My gaze returns to the world in front of me, the throngs along Varick. I float for one second with a squadron of pigeons, see all of us below as motes among the buildings.
A taxi-driver hits his horn, the light shifts to green, someone yells something into a cell-phone...*blink, blunk*...I am just again inside myself, one among the many, a hyphen nearing my destination.
Carrying within me though the memory and future promise of Drop-Time.