There’s a quiet time around sunset, even in the loudest of locales, where time seems to stand still and no matter what chaos flows around me I can hear music in the air like a chorus from heaven. You’re thinking, “This sounds familiar, didn’t something like that happen in…wait, are you ripping off that angel movie?” But long before City of Angels introduced the idea of there being music in the sunrise, there was a magical aspect to the twilight of a day for me that can only be explained as hearing music.
It happens during sunrise too, if I am lucky enough to see it, which isn’t often because I don’t usually rise early now. Yet I remember mornings at summer camp when I was a child. Hurriedly dressing, I’d run out to the lake before anyone else had risen and sit on the dock, surrounded by the dense mist being burned off by the unseen sun…I would hear music in the stillness.
So it was, during a recent trip to New York City that as I found myself alone when the city started to glow with the beginnings of the end, I grabbed dinner from a food cart and started walking towards the waterfront intent on hearing the music in the sunset. I will always remember this NYC night, because I really did experience something magical. I was closest to Battery Park, which I already feel a fondness for, and so I started down the long path that runs past The Sphere that used to sit in the courtyard of The World Trade Center complex. I passed children and parents and tourists and locals crossing to the nearby subway station, and I heard someone exclaim just as I passed the sculpture “What’s that hunk of metal doing in this park? It’s so ugly. And what is it even supposed to be?” For a minute, I felt sad for the person who was so unfamiliar with New York City’s history that they wouldn’t know the answer to that. But even that couldn’t dim my moment.
As the trees closed in and the colors really started to change, the whole of NYC before my eyes seemed like it might catch on fire. Even though I was afraid to miss the actual orb going down over the water, I had to stop and capture the sunset through the trees and the people coming and going through Battery Park. After that point, noises faded and people’s voices seemed muted. I think everyone was focused on the water, on Lady Liberty in the distance, on the moment. I could already hear music.
Picking one of the stone benches that run along along the waterfront, I sat down to finish my dinner and just soak it all in. The quiet was almost eerie. New York City can be a place of deafening noise yet with a sight as beautiful as the one I was beholding something changed. I swear I heard “Explosions in the Sky” even though I didn’t have my iPod with me. Maybe people really did stop to stare, pause their conversations and just take in the beauty. Surely farther away from the water, in between buildings a hundred stories tall where the light simply doesn’t penetrate – there were people completely unaware of the majesty we were experiencing. But at Battery Park, there was a sort of pause…as the music played and the sky let forth its grand design.