The Mania of Manhattan

By: Gabby Price  |  October 24, 2023

By Gabby Price, Staff Writer

Gliding through Manhattan and admiring the landscape, my head is tilted so far up I’m almost falling backward. I stare at the concrete and brick buildings that extend out and pierce the skyline. The height of it all is imposing. The night looks plastic and glossy, like a Polaroid photo. Thin blades of moonlight struggle to assert themselves, diluted by fluorescent billboard screens and artificial lights. A hazy synthetic glow illuminates the city. 

I walk through streets swollen with activity. Herds of people cluster together. I move briskly, navigating my way through the tightly compressed crowds. I pass a man stumbling and swaying. He turns to his right and screams at the empty space beside him, “you need to shut the f*** up!” and then continues walking. Energy radiates in frenzied swirls, the air feels charged and magnetic. I stand loosely in my body as if I’m watching myself from a distance, with a veil between me and reality. Food vendors and pop-up stands litter the allies and sidewalks, selling miscellaneous clothing, items, and tchotchkes (trinkets). Something about it feels like a carnival of sorts, wildly entertaining and stimulating. I walk through potholes that excrete plumes of smoke and smell a mixture of urine and trash waft by and linger for a bit. As I approach a crosswalk, the turbulent stream of traffic is abruptly halted by a lady who casually crosses the street while mumbling rapidly under her breath. She struts through the middle of the road, ignoring the heavy curses, shrill beeps, and the aggressive impatient inching of cars. 

Numbed to the rush and noise of Manhattan, my body drags me forward. I feel like I am having a caffeine withdrawal, bored of myself and the repetitive nature of my feelings and thoughts. The night seems strained and unnatural. I move on autopilot mindless and empty, unaware of the space around me. “Miss, do ya know where the subway is?” The lens in my brain refocusses as I attempt to assess the eccentric presence that now stands inches from me. A stout woman of about 40 inquisitively stares into me. Her midsection extends over her waistline, with  skin hanging loosely over. Her size too small skinny jeans adhere tightly to her waist, held up by a faux Gucci belt. Glinting in the sun, a bedazzled nose ring with the word “love” awkwardly protrudes from her face. She speaks from lips smudged with chalky blue lipstick and her body tilts and wobbles drunkenly. I point her in the correct general direction but before walking away she erupts into a long monologue. “You know I do everything, I’m a black belt and sold drugs… my mamma was on crack but she’s a nurse. You go to school? I write English literature, you know that?” She continues hurling out tangles of sentences. Wildly swinging from topic to topic and sporadically relaying events. Eventually, I manage to break away, insisting I have to get somewhere urgently. Slowly I approach the dorm entrance. Our building is tucked away, small, and unassuming. Passing the security desk I head towards the stairs. Pausing intermittently in the stairwell before reaching the fifth floor. Flushed and gulping for air, I yank open the door to my room.