This post was written by Hilary Weaver.

Photo: Hilary Weaver

Photo: Hilary Weaver

I settle in my spot on the steps of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on the kind of windy March day that invites people-watching. Observing life in the upper east side of New York has a whole new pace than in Columbia’s Ninth Street —there’s a timeless energy that reaches out and grabs me.

I spread my jacket behind me, take out my bagel with lox, and let the wind lift my hair. The smells of the food carts’ hot dogs and pizza drift toward the patrons lounging across the concrete. I begin to open myself to the sounds of the city, picking up the sound bytes that float past me.

A tall man with a blue knit beanie cap and a puffy blue vest slips a paper bag over one of the railings and opens it wide, clearly welcoming change from passersby. With the tap of his foot, he begins to sing, allowing the sounds of an archaic era to enter the air.

His voice rumbles as he lifts his head to the crowd on the steps: “Start spreadin’ the news; I’m leavin’ today …”

Two women saunter by, pushing infants in strollers. They pause to listen to the tune as they discuss organic baby food options.

“Well, I only give her the oatmeal if I know it has organic fruit in it,” one of them says. “She’s in such a better mood if I give her organic. I don’t know what it is.”

I chuckle at this profession of progressive mothering. New York offers insight into organic lifestyles that Missourians often only read about on health blogs or pamphlets at farmer’s markets.

The man has switched to another song from the Sinatra canon: “Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars.”

These sounds of the “Rat Pack” era greet me as I turn my ears from the present dialogue. I listen to his smooth vibrato a bit more until I am once again interrupted by a conversation to my left.

Two teenage girls sit halfway up the steps, twirling their hair while swiping through their iPhones. One rolls her eyes with each pause in a sentence. A frayed subway card pokes out of her back jeans pocket, identifying her as a local.

“I cannot believe I got suspended. That club was for people under 18. It’s, like, my decision to go, or whatever.”

Startled by the entitled tone of her voice, I am given new insight into the life of a modern-day city kid.

I lean away from the girls and into the melody of the man at the foot of the steps as he finishes his Sinatra rendition. This is New York City, and in New York City I can seek refuge from the reality of confronting modern ideals into the mystical milieu of the past.

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