I walked down Broadway early on Wednesday evening, a fleeting free moment in a whirlwind forty-eight hour trip to New York City. It was hot and humid, and despite my light summer dress, I felt like I was swimming through the air. I had taken the bus from Boston that morning, carrying only a small computer bag and my purse. It was my first time back to the city since I moved two months earlier, and I was surprised to find that most things there were exactly the same (the vendors in the farmers’ market, the cracks in the asphalt, the scent of the café near where I once worked) and also a little bit different (new restaurant signs, strappier summer outfits, earlier hours at that same café). I had a dinner scheduled that night and meetings throughout the next day, but with a couple of hours to kill before it all began, I decided to walk. I love to wander.
I walked around Gramercy, past the line for the Shake Shack snaking through Madison Square Park, amid the honk and screech of taxicabs and the rumbling of the subway beneath my feet. I lingered at the market in Union Square, checking out the boxes of fuzzy peaches and shiny purple plums, apricots almost neon in their orange. I bought a book at the Strand, and flipped through the racks at an overpriced thrift store or two.
Around 5 p.m., I stepped into a familiar bodega downtown, looking for a moment of air conditioning and perhaps something sweet, and picked up an icy coconut popsicle, one of dozens of flavors stacked in the freezer in rows. I peeled off the plastic wrapper and ate quickly as I walked. It immediately began to melt.
Weaving there among tourists in baseball caps and business men in suits, I remembered how much I love Manhattan on a summer afternoon—meandering and anonymous, my neck damp with sweat, my tongue frozen with the taste of sugar and vaguely tropical fruit.