Tompkins Square Park Doesn’t Want You

I liked it here. It wasn’t beautiful–it had a shabbiness. The green paint on the benches peeling and graffitied. The pathways scattered with empty water bottles and plastic cups from the drunks who stalked relief after midnight. But I liked it. There was a randomness to it all. The people wandered or sat, useless individuals without purpose. It wasn’t the postcard of Washington Sq. Park–tourists didn’t come here to take pictures. No need to replace memories with pixels, nothing worth shooting. The park held the city’s stragglers, the flounderers, the barely getting byers. Women in yoga pants passed through, but the disorder scared them off. Namaste-no use staying. You won’t find zen here. An offer from a wheelchair bound man for an ice cream date. You’re waiting for someone? All the girls are. Some may gawk, wish you a nice evening. I said have a nice evening. Pretend to smile. They’ll stop talking eventually. Pretend they’re handsome, young, european. Not married, not lonely, not hitting on you because your dress is grazing your thighs in such a way or your strap is falling loosely from your shoulder. No need to rush past the crackling dusty chess players. Pay them no mind. They aren’t interested–they’re interested in their games. For them, a checkmate  is all they have, the pieces of their lives have already been stolen away, but at least they can conquer something. Anything. Don’t look for a date. He’s not here. Try another park. One without the wanderers, the randoms, the pointless. Go to where the homeless don’t have a language–where the city has swept up the clusters of men in the shirts they wore yesterday, where newspapers, a smoke, and leftovers aren’t currency, where teenage girls don’t yell in your face and wake you from your technological daze. Leave this lonely hearts club house. You don’t belong with the strays. Get out of here before you become one of us.


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