Another New York Moment, Christmas Edition

imgres Another New York Moment, Christmas EditionSo I’m talking on the phone to my dear friend Patty who lives in the Boston area, bitching about how all I do is work and that I don’t want to do Christmas this year yaddayaddayadda.  I have my reasons.  It’s a pain thing.  She’s getting ready for her 5th Christmas party of the week and I’m feeling totally sorry for myself, alone in NYC where I have few friends. How can you do it, I ask her.  How do you summon the Christmas spirit and want to socialize?  She replies, “I’m sorry I’m not helping, Honey, but I have to go.”  Yes, I understand.  I hang up and walk back to the office part of my small NY apartment, ready to tackle more client issues.  It’s that time of year.

Then I hear it.  Singing.  ???  Outside on the street.  I open my window shutters and see a large crowd of people up the street…singing carols.  It’s unusually warm in NY tonight (55 degrees) and quiet in my Upper West Side neighborhood, so the sound carries straight into my 3rd fl apartment and directly into my heart.  Before I can even think, I slip my shoes on, throw a coat over my shoulders, grab my keys and head out to hear them.  As I walk up the street, I see people like me, joining the crowd that has grown to about 100 people, and I slip into the mob.

We sing every Christmas carol I know and some I don’t, as we move and stop and sing, move and stop and sing, circling the blocks in my most amazing neighborhood.

Men, women, children, every race and age, dogs of every stripe wearing Santa caps.

Alone and in groups we sing in harmony and in rounds.  I recognize the voices of the two opera ladies in the neighborhood who give voice lessons and whose voices I hear clearly as they warm up on sunny days when my windows are open.  We are led by three different directors who clearly know their stuff.  We fall in line and take our parts.  It’s glorious and many are in tears.  We sing loud and proud (“let them hear us in NJ”) and people in the high rises all around us open windows and applaud, though one Grinchy lady closes her window and then shades.  I feel sorry for her and wonder if her heart is 3 sizes too small.

At the end of each series of songs, we “bless” the block by singing a latin hymn I don’t know (Dona Nobis Pacem) but fake OK.  The rounds are heavenly.

The singing is divine, as good as you’d find in Boston at Symphony Hall.  These are New Yorkers, after all, loaded with talent and ambition.  At the end, when we circle back to my street, I walk back to my apartment when most go into a building down the street for hot cider (I don’t want to socialize tonight) and I experience again what a difference a moment makes and how quickly I jumped into the joy of singing.  I’m a singer after all and a singer has to sing.  My heart is so much lighter now.

Who needs a party when you can sing on the streets with strangers in perfect harmony? Ah, heaven…

Many people who do not live here don’t understand why I live in NYC.  They ask me to move to be closer to them, wanting my company and thinking that NY is a cold and harsh place devoid of humanity, a great place to visit but not a place to live.  But that is not my experience.  Every day I see small acts of simple kindness, done and gone in the blink of an eye.  I admire New Yorkers as the hardest workers I’ve ever known and one tough breed of people.  I fancy myself one of them.

I love what happened tonight.  It was performance art at its finest.  Here and gone forever.  One hundred disparate people, an old school flash mob, coming together for the love of memories and camaraderie and the sacred sound of the human voice in harmony.   “Where else but on the Upper West Side?”, called our conductor at the end.

Now do you see why I think this city is so magical?

So my wish for you is that you have a spontaneous magical moment like this one during your own holiday season.

And Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

 

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