New York #1

Last week I found myself waking up in a coffee-less induced haze in New York. I walked down 5th Av with some sort of heat seeking momentum, perhaps expecting to find deliverance at the end in some sort of cup filled with more ice & milk than awareness. But, instead, I found myself in Washington Square park on a Saturday morning. People teemed through the pathways en masse, as water sprayed in such a way that the air became fragrant with chlorine and coolness.
    My mind focussed solely on the intent of getting to my destination, I had nearly made my way through the entirety of the park before I hit a small clearing in which twenty odd souls sat around a tattooed man's worn-out piano. The sounds of a dying rendition of Phillip Glass' Opening could be heard as I ceased my approach. The twenty odd people shared their enjoyment with a polite approach of applause while the pianist gave himself time to prepare for his next set. With a spark of joy he looked up, ready to continue a now seemingly ageless tradition, he asked: 'would anyone like to come lay under the piano?'. Two young girls jumped at the idea, and quickly positioned themselves directly under the great, hulking, warm, black piano. He explained that unlike standing near the piano, laying under it allows you to feel the music falling into your chest "like a waterfall". And as he played the first few opening notes to let the girls get used to it, they looked at each other in amazement, "WOW!".
    Soon I found myself transfixed, watching and listening in absolute attention as he reeled off Rachmaninov, Glass & Mozart to the stoic walls of New York University and the brownstown tenaments that filled in the gaps. Squirrels ran amok with picnicers food and the pianist exclaimed, "the best music is by Chopin", until he played Glass and would say, "the best music is by Phillip Glass". Until eventually he reached DeBussy. And he asked, "Does anyone know this music?", he played a few notes. Immediately everyone's heart skipped a beat, a girl opposite the park to me shot her hand up as I shot up mine, but he saw her. She walked over alone as he explained how and where to sit under the piano, but a part of me knew this wasn't something I was allowed to miss. I ran up knowing there was a spare spot, and only owing to the fact I'd been sitting in the sweltering 90% humidity for hours did he let my intrusion slide. But he did and I lay under the grand old piano in Washington Square park, as he set up a bag underneath my head for comfort.
    The first notes rung out as he prepared us for the onslaught of music, but nothing could prepare either of us as the very depths of every note began to reverberate through our chests. A vibration that is entirely lost in our modern age of laptop-oriented-listening. Sounds and frequencies that are reserved normally for the pianist themselves began to tear through me. As fifty people sat in a full circle around us, I felt my chest begin to heave. My eyes clench and that specific tract of our nervous system that is otherwise solely dedicated to embarrassment, or, emotional release, quickly filled to overflowing with uncontrollable: love and sadness. With tremors the pianist struck every last pent up emotion out my body, until the girl laying next to me asked, "Are you crying, too?". And here we were, two absolute strangers being torn apart by otherwise inoculate and beaten-to-death music, in the middle of downtown New York on a Saturday. With a mixture of egoistic fear and astonishment, I arose as the music had well and truly finished.
    The showman concrete in his knowledge that he had genuinely touched at least two people for the day, entertained the crowds as we left the centre stage, wet, tear-stained marks of our bodies as the only proof that the last five minutes had occurred. And as I slipped my shoes back on and stood to walk away, only the faintest mark was left from our tears and sweat left on the ground. This was New York after all, and this is just another minute the day of a New Yorker.

Melbourne #1 

The two lay side-by-side as statues of porcelain under the moonlight, only deep breathing, a trailing conversation, and the glimmer of sweat beads to give away any presence of life.

“Art? I hate it, it reeks of failure”

His words slipped out of his mouth into the silence. Their date followed the trajectory of a kamikaze comet, it’s peak of beauty only comes at the moment right before it burns itself out of existence. Drinks had followed words, words were followed with the quiver of a nervous first kiss, and the dance of dating finished with two bodies learning one another’s hidden language.

With silent objection she turned to him. The words rung true of a person disinterested in learning from their own past. It reeked of falsehood covering ones own ineptitude and she knew it. Her response coming after only a thoughtful resolution.

“Art is expression. That is all it is. What is there to fail?” Her words stirred the sheets, it was clear to her that he had registered the uncomfortable solution to his problem. Of course people do not want solutions, they want problems. And so he likewise turned to her.

“It would seem impossible to an art critic, that their imagination could ever be wrong.”

She wove silence around his words as an entrapment to his ego, and thought it inevitable that two strangers would have their first truthful conversation only after their first orgasm. He continued.

“It would be wrong to suggest that every one can be right. So art can only be an ecosystem of people seeking success, from those who can only hand out failure.” She turns away.

“If you’re seeing failure it’s only because of your own rigid views on art.”

He turns away.

Whatever thought had opened them to the conversation had long since faded. Their minds wondered in unison about how two people could share such intimate physical space, yet be so unable to do the same with their ideas and beliefs. Their statuesque forms began to melt, however, as one of them reached through the security of the sheets to reconnect with the other. An alchemical occurrence took place as the unlikely meeting of two personalities slowly meshed. A person forever able to forgive, had, through mutual desire, found a person unable to forgive themselves.

“Don’t run away from yourself.”

You never realise the first moment you’ve fallen in love with someone until the moment’s too far passed.




Jayden Reynolds, Melbourne, 2019