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Out of Context

June 16, 2009


Sometimes, the charm, agony or ease of a situation is all about context. A tiny thing swells from neat to gorgeous; a modest ache knocks you senseless; an odious task shrinks to “piece of cake”. For instance, a love letter, an insult, a firefly in Manhattan.

I purchased a plane ticket, packed a bag, and searched for my passport. In that order. Regrettably, my passport was nowhere to be found, the ticket was non-transferable, and I had five hours before take-off. Mercifully, it materialised when I emptied my desk in the middle of the floor. A taxi ride, a security wand blip, a swift landing, and by dusk, I was walking with my friend J., heading south on Avenue A.

J. recited the menus, merits and downsides of his favourite restaurants, whittling down the list. We settled on pizza and chardonnay at a hip-but-not-cloying spot nearby. “Thin crust with just enough basil and cheese,” he said, cupping a hand over his forearm. He lifted his palm to reveal a plain, brown bug. The sun had dropped below the skyline, but was an hour away from fully set, and a low light still reached the street. The bug flickered and zapped a vigorous yet impotent glow.

My first firefly. Its brilliance was surprising; instead of warm tungsten, this thing was flashy sodium. The bug was rendered more beautiful by its unexpected context. I don’t doubt it’s romantic to spot a firefly through a dark, quiet glade. But, plucking one from the Lower East Side air–that was even sweeter.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Veena permalink
    July 11, 2009 3:56 am

    hi, I found your blog and have been enjoying reading through your posts, so thank you. I love this story of a new york night. I'm going to new york for the second time at the end of August, can't wait. it's endlessly inspiring (or I assume it would be, that it would be endless, if it were given the chance)

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