tiny and giant, fast and slow

I watched the silhouette stride across the three mammoth windows of Grand Central Station – just a tiny stick of shadow making its way through giant panes of light. Nobody minds when someone stands still in the middle of Grand Central because everyone is either a commuter or a tourist. Commuters rarely pause and tourists rarely speed. The two kinds of Grand Central Stationers coexist easily and well, as long as they respect the plaid crossing pattern when they do decide to move.

You know the pattern I mean, right? I remember it from marching band and 5th grade choir concerts. One line of people meets another line of people at a diagonal and when the lines intersect, the people alternate so both lines pass through toward different directions. Anyway, that’s how movement happens in the Station and it is a wonder to observe. Diagonals on diagonals and motion on motion and it all buzzes like a beehive of ambition toward productivity of work or play.

And above all the commotion was this solitary figure last night, the tiniest silhouette framed by summer evening city light.

I straddled the world between tourist and commuter (because I am rarely fully either) and tilted my head toward my right shoulder to consider what tiny looks like against giant and what fast looks like inside slow. It was probably foolish, stopping like that for no reason.

But I can’t shake the mystery of feeling both tiny and giant, both fast and slow.

Living in the city is like that for me. It is why my body felt like a hundred dead weights by the time I reached my apartment door with groceries last night and it is also why I went on a bike ride with my husband to listen to jazz in a tea room an hour later. The perfect sunset breeze, an upright bass, and the best conversation over a decaf cappuccino is what summer date nights are made of.

And so we rush a little bit to slow down a lot. We subway scurry home from work and we bike to lazy trumpet sounds. It is like the calm, steady stride of a silhouette in giant train station windows above a frenzy of motion – both tiny and giant, both fast and slow.

to look up and believe that anything is possible

We were all little underneath the bigness of the tall trees in the Virginian forest, but she was the littlest. Emma was an easy and obvious target for our attention, frolicking her 2-year-old self in the colorful, autumn glory.

I got a little bit caught up watching her eyes dart from leaves to trees to path to playground. I got a little bit caught up chasing the heels of her adventure – a present and ready endeavor. But it wasn’t thoughtful or intentional, because the adventurous spark in Emma’s eyes was intuitive.

What else would one do with a perfect autumn day underneath tall trees filled to brimming with all colors of leaves?

Emma told us, “I’m gonna fly to the treetops and touch them!”

And before I could think to say what I felt (Yes, yes you are!), she mustered a jump and extended her fingers above her head to squeal, “got one!”

Of course she did.

Today, a man was slicing up a giant fish on the sidewalk when I walked by the 2/5 train stop on Winthrop. Today, the sun melted into hot pink on the horizon as I watched from the subway platform on Crescent Street. Today, my students said I looked like I could be from the Bronx or Staten Island. Today, I watched my laundry eat my quarters and swish around in circles while I chatted with my laundry friend Mohammad.

Today, I lived in the city, far away from tall trees and wide eyes, but this past weekend I dropped off the city grid to walk on forest paths and step into the wonder that just comes naturally when you are two feet tall.

Of course she thought to touch treetops. And of course the treetops were within reach.

The world of treetops stopped being reachable somewhere in my adolescence. I guess I started to shrug it off when it became unreasonable and ignorant. I’m not sure how it became less okay to dream, but it just kind of happened. I’m fighting it, but it happens often in my concrete corner of the world.

I’m fighting it, but I need lessons with Emma in the Virginia forest to remind me about mystery and imagination and touching treetops.

Because the people here are mostly more than five feet, so they have forgotten what it is to look up and believe that anything is possible.