Walking to a date with my MIL, thought I'd take the "easy" way. 6 blocks above ground, a jaunt thru Grand Central and the walkway, Shuttle train to the 6, and then a 10 min ride, reading my fantasy book, to Astor Place and the Village, looking for cheap comfy eats. Underground at 44th, following the ever-elusive grey circles leading me to the S. Crowds pushing, construction, seemingly endless crowds, damp drywall smells, warmth of the day starting to bring out the odors of people and garbage and stale soot. Then a wider cavern, a bit of space, and what's that? Music? But I don't hear instruments, only smooth voices. Four of them. Brothers in harmony, black, middleaged and sure of themeselves, full of the clearest tones of joy. Clapping, almost barbershopping, the craggiest character belting out "I once was loooooost, but nooooooow am found", they held a grinning respectful audience. The grins? Two mites, camped out not 3 feet in front of them, siblings, clapping and swaying at kneecap height. Cornrows bouncing, sister 'correcting' brother on the right way to dance. Pure delight. Dull roar of other voices and rhythms flowing around me, I smiled, took it to heart, and moved on following the S.
Not 3 steps away my ears started to separate the rhythms from the roar ... up the tunnel towards another bit of energy echoing down the tiled walls. A solo drummer, schooched up against the wall barely clearing the tide of humans, banging his hands as if his beat was pushing us all along. Keep moving, hear the tide, be the tide, riiiide on through folks. I'm here, you hear, find the groove. A hat for coins, a grin and unfocused eyes, the beat was his heart.
Fading behind me as I started down the slope, I once again started picking up another voice, another beat ... a quartet winding down in the next cave of pillars, people, grimy walls, and small grey (s)igns. Not wanting to lose momentum, following the elusive Pied Piper, the next players were 3 burly guys with a boombox, cranking it up and preparing to dance. Yah Mon.
The wave continues. Pushes. Condenses. Carrying me to the S, to a packed train, stand clear of the closing doors please. The joy of spring underground.