It’s been a h@*l of a winter in NYC. The long deep freeze and unrelenting bouts of snow, sleet, and more snow in January and February have not been conducive to making an easy, pleasant trek to our Soho office, much less to taking leisurely walks at lunchtime. And yet, that is just what I had been hoping to do.
We’re moving. Leaving the neighborhood where Leadership’s office has been since before I started working here. From my perspective, we’ve always been here. There are other great neighborhoods in NYC, but Soho is my work home as much as Leadership is my work home.
So knowing we would be leaving in March, I wanted to get last licks visits in to all the local haunts. In my mind that meant strolling in a different direction every day, some days just for a quick best-ever chai at Hampton Chutney , some days to explore further afield what is new in shop windows or on the ever changing old streets between Bleecker and Canal, between West Broadway and the Bowery.
With the brutal temperatures and icy precipitation inhibiting my adventurousness, I tried to be more deliberate in the direction I headed on those few days I dared to brave the elements. But, I wondered, what stops MUST I make on my sayonara strolls through Soho? What old boutiques, new hotels, restaurants, tea salons, street vendors, food carts do I need to check off my list before I’m no longer within daily walking distance? What exactly am I going to miss? Surely not the eternally over-crowded sidewalks of Broadway. Nor the windblown litter on Crosby St. Not the street percussionist on the corner of Prince and Broadway, drawing smiles from pedestrians with his rumba-inducing rhythms (that is, until they get close enough to hear the stream of Shakespeare-worthy curses he incessantly spews at his listeners).
But wait. Maybe it is all those people on lower Broadway after all, the crazy range of sights and sounds and offerings and activity. Despite the weather woes, Soho’s main drag still hums with hoards of people. The energy in Soho may be a little muted right now by down coats and snow boots, but it is still vibrant, and we are all still striding about, making our joyful noise at any hour.
And that, I realize, is exactly what I will miss: the lights and music of Soho. The distinctive rhythm, the creative energy, and allegro of the place. The sudden, sublime changes in key as you turn a corner, the unexpected visual harmony, or verbal cacophony. It isn’t just one voice or one movement: it’s the whole surprising symphony.
Over time I expect I’ll discover where the magic is in the tempo and tune of our new location. But until I find my connection to that new ensemble, I have an open ticket to the Soho philharmonic anytime I want to take a stroll through the old neighborhood streets. This isn’t sayonara, Soho, it’s à bientôt.
Music from Freesound.org by Symphoid and Luca De Bernardi. Photos by Lucille Rivin.