This is the season when words dance in the air. I’m not sure if it’s the strains of holiday music that carry them, the spit of snow that punctuates them, or the crush of people that propels them, but there’s clear buzz around us.
The air is charged with energy that puts the brain on sensory overload. Sights, sounds, and smells conjure up old memories and set new ones in motion. For the writer, this means an infusion of inspiration.
A recent trip to New York City landed me smack in the middle of Times Square at night. The place was pulsing with activity. Words called out to me from neon signs that snapped to life, teasing with bold graphics that appeared and disappeared. I stood there transfixed, trying to discern a pattern, attempting to predict a rhythm as if to unlock a code.
Words rushed by me as I made my way through the streets. Some caught in my ears randomly. “Free tickets,” “taxi,” “showtime,” “wait up.”
Illuminated skyscrapers talked to me, placing
plot lines generously in my head: “She worked
the street like a chessboard …” “He had only
been in America three weeks when he learned
a lesson he would remember for life.” “The child
has been right there, holding his mother’s hand,
when out of nowhere came the speeding car,
the gun shot, and then, the deadly silence.”
My eyes turned up toward the towering
billboards. I was clearly in The Valley of Advertising. Mountains of messaging rose around me. Clouds of steam gushed from subway vents but failed to obliterate the sell. Words I hadn’t thought of in a while pinged my brain. “Chestnut vendors,”
“Hot pretzels.” “Girls.” They all came tumbling down, landing like pigeons
The idea of Broadway drafted a cerebral screenplay. “Like so many struggling actors, Lance sat on the stoop behind the stage door, hungry for food and for work.” “As she rose to her toes, applause replaced the pain.” “He never liked the guy at the corner — too jovial for a place where it’s better to lower your eyes than start a conversation.”
Cars honked in the distance and brought me to attention. I joined the sea of tourists and climbed the red glass steps to admire the city. Words jumped like a Slinky® from tier to tier. Words with dialects. Words with slang. Words I didn’t understand.
There were unspoken words, too, as a couple nuzzled in front of me, laughing over a personal secret. Another argued over something seemingly unimportant.
I began making mental notes. I took a few phone pictures, too. In this setting, I was an observer — part of the story but also removed from it. A nice place to be. A good perspective.