April Awakening: Day Seven
I can’t really tell anymore if New York City is filthy. It’s like there’s efforts being made to not have trash all over the place, but there’s nothing being done to beautify any area. It’s just a boring-looking city, despite how beautiful and unique apartment facades can be. Sure, there are some days the trash piles are enormous, but it’s not like they stay that way forever. It gets picked up. What does one expect a city to do about its trash, anyway?
I’ve been cognizant of how things look around here, though. I don’t litter. I always recycle, even a simple sheet of paper. I don’t know if my efforts are going anywhere, but I hope it’s making some kind of a difference. Around my neighborhood, things are relatively clean. The Councilman I got in a Twitter fight with does make it a point to do away with graffiti and keep things neat. Though I don’t think a virtual poster with his face on it with the phrase: “There is no Poop Fairy, clean up after your dog” is having the impact he thinks it will. God, I wish I had snapped a picture of it. Dog crap on the sidewalk is the least of my worries around here.
There is simply nothing lovely about my neighborhood. It’s Midtown. Nothing exciting happens here. It’s just a hub where people walk. It’s not dirty., there’s only sometimes a little trash buildup here and there. I’ll even see a misplaced mask strewn about, a pandemic-era relic that many here are still cleaving to. I’m trying to find the beauty around me, but it’s proving difficult. And if I actually want to see the change, I have to make sure I’m doing my part, too.
Right across the street from me is a little park. It used to be a lot nicer, but there’s virtually no upkeep to it. They lock it up when evening falls. Dogs just pee all over the one patch of grass it’s home to. There’s a place I can sit near a cafe with no hours on the front. I haven’t seen anyone order anything since the Before Time, even as employees clean it and go inside every day. But it’s one of my outside spots, so I make sure to treat it nice, even if not everyone does.
Yesterday, a girl sat down to roll a joint while talking to someone on FaceTime. She’s not special, I saw another girl do the same thing the day before. But this one got up and walked away, leaving an empty box of rolling papers on the table. As soon as I saw she was out of sight, I got off my seat, walked over to pick it up, and threw it in the garbage can not three feet away. I’m not a narc, I’m not going to tell on anyone. But I’m also not going to complain about a mess and do nothing about it. It was just my gesture that I felt I needed to do. Then, it happened again not a half hour later.
A group of five people all came over to sit. Four guys and one of their girlfriends. I can guess which group they were with, but I might save that for another entry. Either way, they brought out the beers and proceeded to drink without paperbagging it. I mean, in a city where people just walk around blowing blunts, a cop ain’t gonna give a toss to an open container. Either way, I was speaking with my parents when I saw two of them throw their bottle caps toward the garbage can, but miss entirely. And they didn’t chase them down to throw them out. I felt so enraged, I exclaimed, “Pick it up!” They either didn’t hear me or didn’t speak my language, so I let it go until it was time for me to leave. I walked right over, picked up the two bottlecaps myself, and threw them away. “Thank you,” I heard one say, while another told me, “Sorry.”
I looked at the group. “I know it’s gross around here, but we can all help out, right?” Guilt shot back at me from all corners, so I just nodded, waved, and went on my way. I didn’t really feel good after, either. I know I let my cuntiness shine through, but if it plants a seed about thinking twice before contributing to the grime, then I can walk away with a clean conscience.
Just because I’m surrounded by mess doesn’t mean I have to embrace it. I can find my own standards and raise my immediate space to them. I have to want better for what’s around me, and if I can actively do that, then that’s all the better. I refuse to “get out of cities” until I’m good and ready, knowing I’ve left this place cleaner than I found it. Why shouldn’t I want that for the city of my birth?