Through a Writer’s Eye

Recently, David Miller, a young Upper West Side writer, spent time closely observing Theodore Roosevelt Park – from the walkway tiles to the fascinating swirl of human activity.

Tiles. Trees. Dogs. Squirrels. Flowers. People. Children.

Behold: The Theodore Roosevelt Park.

birdsYou look down. Two tiles rest beneath your left foot — gray, hexagonal tiles with edges darkened from the still-drying rain of yesterday — two tiles out of thousands just like it (some cracked, some severed, some with grayed stains of once-pink chewing gum), each lain one by one by one. The sheer work it must’ve taken. The menial, tedious labor. You consider it. Those hands that made this ground. The efforts of strangers whose gruntwork and elbow grease has enabled you to sit here now with the hairs on your legs bristling faintly in the wind and the trees stretching their arms like frozen dancers; the golden retriever whose fur flows like day-time fields of bowing wheat; the cute little squirrel inching in on you, tail like a duster, curious, cautious, ready to jolt at your slightest twitch; white flowers on the edge of a branch bobbing up and down in the breeze like doves ready for flight; — on your left, outside the park, bricks and streetlights and people on phones; the dopplered hums of passing yellow cabs and great white SUVs and the weary exhalation of a halting truck’s wheels (just another NYC block); — but here, in the park, the only wheels belong to those of a stroller pushed by a loving mother, her running shoes scratching the gray tiles with every other step as she smiles at her progeny; your hasty neighbor jogs past, greeting you with an imagined hello-goodbye (of course it’s nothing personal, she looks like she’s in a hurry). Tiles, trees, dogs, squirrels, flowers, people, children. You laugh at yourself for thinking that the only thing this scene needs is the raspy-baritone voice of Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World” (how cliché of you!).

Behold: The Theodore Roosevelt Park.

Verdant, serene, anomalous, significant.

You look to your right. A metallic time capsule sits at the end of the park. In front of it is a plaque which reads: “This is the Times Capsule, designed by Santiago Calatrava, created by The New York Times and placed at the American Museum of Natural History in 2001. The contents are intended to offer insight into daily life today. We ask that it remain sealed until January 1, 3000.” A father chases his son around the capsule, purposefully running slow so as to never let himself catch the boy — just perennially going in circles, around and around and around and…