I don’t think I would survive the bus and train rides in and out of the New York City without my iPod. I got it free with my new computer and Eddie engraved the words, “Gonna take a Sentimental Journey” on the back, lyrics to my all time favorite song. Music makes the sudden stops, rude passengers, and overpowering scent of BO just a little more bearable. Today I put the headphones in my ears, selected “shuffle” for my 8-kilobytes of music, and absorbed the sites around me, noticing how they correlated in perfect synch to the music that only I could hear. Like the soundtrack to a movie.
You won’t believe me, but the song that played as Bus 163 drove through the Lincoln Tunnel (connecting NJ to NYC), was “Back to Manhattan” by Norah Jones. I listened to her gentle voice as I stared out the smudged window at the beige tiles of the tunnel, reflecting the glare of the fluorescent headlights as cars made their way to and from the city. On the subway, I heard my ancient recording of “Rock-a-bye Ethan” I made years ago for my baby nephew. I would normally skip this song, but I let it play when I noticed a mother come through the sliding subway doors pushing a toddler in a stroller, and carrying an infant wrapped in a swaddler, which she steadied with her free hand as she struggled over the threshold between the platform and subway car.
As I walked a few city blocks in the Lower East Side, I heard the most perfect song. Though it was dreary and raining, hundreds of people swarmed the sidewalks with their umbrellas. We bumped shoulders with one another, flooded the crosswalks despite the “don’t walk” signal, and made a beeline for our destinations. I heard a line from “I Died So I Could Haunt You” by Stars. I thought about how so many of us daily make our way through this world, filling our lives with what we believe is significant. The song was so fitting, I felt as though a ghost whispered the lyric right into my ear, “Thousands of ghosts in the daylight, one day we’ll all disappear. We’ll walk till we get to the harbor. They’ll never know we were here."