By Johna Till Johnson
People often ask why I live in New York. Yes, it’s crowded. And expensive. And even though the crime rate is way down from the 1980s when I first lived here, it’s still a city—with all the dangers a city brings.
I try to explain, but the truth is, it’s not the cultural richness. Or the wonderful food. Or even the variegated mix of people.
It’s that New York can continue to surprise and amaze me. As it did on a recent overcast autumn day: I’d just finished brunch with a friend and decided on the spur of the moment to walk the three miles home. I made it less than half the way there when I noticed that the density of police officers had picked way up. And then I heard it: Music, and a few green-and-white-clad people dancing in the street.
A few more steps, and I was in the midst of a full-on street festival, with floats, marching bands, music, and dancing. Apparently it was the 55th birthday of Nigeria (who knew?) and celebrants were out in force. (Well, technically, modern Nigeria was founded on October 1, 1960, but close enough…)
I walked the next several blocks with a gigantic grin on my face. The music was infectious, the colors brilliant, and the energy electric. And by the time I got to the end of the festival, my heart was dancing along with the dancers.