Learning Lines

Investigating New Territory Through The World of Writing

The Jail in the Middle of Central Park: A New York Story

We had to get from the Museum of Natural History to the Met.  Heading from the west side of Central Park to the east side was a straight shot across at 81st street.  What was the problem?  It was a major street in the middle of the day right?  Mark didn’t think it was such a good idea.  Looking on a map in the subway I thought a major avenue made sense.  I had been walking up and down next to Central Park for the last three days.  The sidewalks were full of people.  So why was Mark so hesitant?

Clearly, the fauna in Central Park was in all its summer glory.  A quick storm had overtaken New York City while we were on the west side of the park.  The humidity was 100%.  All the plants were still dripping with rain when we headed to the corner of 81st street to cross Central Park.  The sidewalk was about four feet wide, but completely empty.  The only cars zooming on 81st street were cabs.  I held the camera, which was highly unusual with Mark being a professional photographer.  I used my Nikon D40x primarily in my classroom to document my students reading and writing and doing science experiments.  Mark carried my camera most of the time during the trip.  But, for some reason, I had started to take some photos while we were in the Natural History Museum.  There were some displays devoted to Theodore Roosevelt, whom I highlighted for my students when I taught about biographies.  So, I had a go at the camera.  Never before had I cared about what setting would best fit the light conditions.  It was time for me to start asking some questions about lighting so I would be able to capture the rock and landscape as we walked through Central Park.  I tried to find some interesting subjects.  The creepy old metal doors in the walls next to the sidewalk looked as if they had been there since the thirties.  Where did those doors lead to anyway?  It was as if we were looking at the entrance to a mausoleum.  Did they keep road cones for construction back there?  Snap.

We approached the first bridge.  An arc curved over the road in rock with defiant plants sneaking through the cracks.  Snap.  I stopped to look at the image.  Mark continued walking.  The composition was good. Still there wasn’t a whole lot of depth.  I needed to figure out how to change the exposure so the bridge came forward more into the middle of the field.

Underneath the bridge some stairs from God-knows-where appeared.  No one passed us on foot.  No voices playing frisbee or picnicking could be heard in the distance. Snap. Only the echo of horns from the taxis slipping through the holes of rock filled the background as I tried to capture the stairs through the lens and check again for the effect.  Mark looked back stopping again, waiting for me to catch up.  Usually, I was the annoyed one waiting for him.  What an ironic twist this was.  Where was everybody anyway?

People had told me being in Central Park made you feel as though you were no longer in New York City.  Before then I really couldn’t imagine how the constant buzz of the city could be silenced by a few plants.  I was wrong.  It felt as though Mark and I were completely alone.  I let the camera hang around my neck and decided to take in all the beauty through only my senses without the camera in-between.  There was a rock wall about eight feet high next to me.  Overgrown wild raspberries dotted the sky through the vines when I looked up.  My breathing got tight as I hiked up the hill next to the street.  Sweat trickled down my back and beaded on my upper lip.  The cavern covered with stone and pavement within the heart of the park had to be hotter and more humid than the city streets that allowed for breezes.  My calves felt tired from a long day of walking.  As soon as we got to the Met we should get some water to keep hydrated.  The hill sloped upward, the stone wall decreased and met up with the side of a small one story building up ahead.  I wondered what kind of a building would be located in the middle of the park.  The Zoo and some restaurants were located in Central Park.  Maybe this building up ahead was attached to the Zoo.  It was old.  White paint was chipped off in many places with cracks in need of repair.  Skinny and tall rectangular windows were cracked open at different angles.  There was a fair amount of light.  Yet, the building was nothing spectacular.

(Continued tomorrow)

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2 comments on “The Jail in the Middle of Central Park: A New York Story

  1. Vicke
    August 9, 2010

    Just like television, it breaks and “leaves you waiting” for what comes next.
    Is the building part of the zoo or something else??? Does she pass out or
    make it to that bottle of water? Does she stop and take more photos? I can’t
    wait! Love the descriptions, the switch of the camera, and the teacher still
    thinking of her class right after school is out for the summer! You’re so
    predicatable!

  2. Chris
    August 10, 2010

    I love it! I’m intrigued- Were you mugged? Arrested? Was Mark’s camera stolen? I’m also very curious about this ug-o building you are approaching. I love the way you created this sense of suspense and tension. I can’t wait for tonight’s episode!

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This entry was posted on August 9, 2010 by in Uncategorized.
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