Today, after a harrowing day of contending with the hyperbolic hard sells and less-than-subtle tactics of insidious realty agents and a tedious strategy session discussing the best course of action in continuing my ongoing pursuit of affordable living in New York City, I was treated to the entirely unrelated—but by no means innocuous—experience of having my car banged by a cab door as an infuriatingly unapologetic bitch swung it open to step inside. Left in total disbelief, I was incapable of reacting beyond tapping out two utterly impotent honks as the taxi pulled away.
Soon afterward, tired, frustrated, and on the brink of unconditional surrender, I was in full retreat on the FDR when I noticed two thin men with closely cropped hair leaning into each other over the center console inside the forest green Toyota Corolla stopped at the red light directly ahead of me. There, the passenger gently planted kisses on the neck of the driver in a private and mundane act of affection that managed to sweep away the stress that had all day curdled inside me. Bearing voyeuristic witness to that quiet and uncomplicated moment, amid the typical solitude of driving in traffic and painted over the context of my hellish day, felt like drinking from an existential oasis, dissolving away the bombastic frivolities that twisted my mind into such grotesque shapes. The thick suffocating blanket of urban solitude was momentarily lifted and my empathy, dulled by so many layers of defensive apathy, could finally take its first full breath in a very long time. I thought of my girlfriend and my close friends and all the people I cared about, and I was happy to be reminded by these two men that in this life, there are respites from the agony of the cancerous tedium that threatens to take us over when we lose perspective. We are each others' oases when the desert of daily life leaves us parched.
And while reflecting quietly on things more important than dents and deposits, cruising toward the GW, I ran over a pigeon.
It caught my eye at the very last second, and the desperate hope that I don't run it over was abruptly dashed by a gut-dropping noise that sounded like a merger of popping and crunching, onomatopoeically filled with simultaneous glottals and plosives: pfwwchkglkgl.
And all at once, the horror, stress, terror, and soul-crushing existential uncertainty I had only moments ago exhaled seized upon me like the sudden and putrid stench of roadkill carcass that's been marinading for days along a stretch of highway in the wet, oppressive air of a mid-Atlantic heat wave.