It was one of the rare days that you didn’t sweat after two blocks of walking down the street. So, we took advantage and spent the whole afternoon roaming about Chinatown. We met up on the SW corner of Delancy and Chrystie before meandering throughout that strip of a park planted between Lower East Side and Chinatown. We always find ourselves here, captivated by the livelihood and love that barely acknowledges your existence. Handballs bounced off giant cement walls echoing an invitation to play. “Can we hop in next round?” “Oh well, there’s a line.” Denied but still determined, we decided to circle back later. Aidan pulls out his camera and throws his fist in the air as he realizes his SD card is sitting on the table at home. But the day must be captured, so we find ourselves purchasing a shitty SD card - no exchanges, no refunds, no returns.
We walked through the beautiful wonders of Da Hing Florist, where Alex and Thu excitedly asked about the 4ft cacti in the front, before circling back for handball attempt number two. “Shit there’s more people now. And those guys have gloves.” “Yeah, fuck it I’m not ready. Next time - we’ll bring our own ball.” Chinatown is the best place to do nothing, to get lost and wander about. It invites you to interact with no barrier of pretension. It’s unpredictable no matter how frequent you visit. It’s narrow streets and mix of locals and foreigners of all ages simply bleeds more life in a single glance than most places do. There is no one particular scene going on here, it’s everything - steaming buns and dumplings, knock-off highsnob fashion, urban sports, tea and tapioca, gambling and karaoke in the park.
In Columbus Park, Thu and I took to the turf with our Ten Ren tea and books as Aidan and Alex roll onto the concrete. For an hour or so I passively watch them fall off a skateboard, try countless failed ollies over an emptied boba cup, and tangle their legs in the air. After limited success and a lot of sweat, they pick up a basketball floating on the edge and play a round of horse on the far court. This playground satisfies their short attention span, offering a handful of ways to exhaust youthful energy. Chinatown never fails; it boldly demands cash only while continuing to provide for the evolving flood of faces both new and old that float by each day. •