A friend was at the barber shop last night when a man walked in with a gun and started shooting.
The Village Halloween Parade has never been on my NYC bucket list. It always sounded to me like the exact description of my personal nightmare: crowds of people moving slowly, not paying attention to anyone else, hindering you from getting anywhere.
So I’d never tried to see it before. But this year, perhaps because my costume–that I had originally begun in 2008 and never finished–was incredible, maybe because it was my 9th Halloween in the city, possibly because I was just looking for a new thing to blog about, I went.
It was as maddening as I’d predicted. Costumed revelers smashed into me at every turn. Determined partiers forced their way past me with every step. At one point we had to go down into a subway station just to get away from the press of people. It was even a little scary if you imagined how easy it would be for someone to pull out a knife masquerading as an accessory and stab people, which of course I did imagine.
But I’m glad I went because it was, amid the constant claustrophobic atmosphere, also a celebration of life and joy. It was people coming together with a common interest and a shared wonder, and even if the crowd became carried away, and even if the logistics got crazy to the point that there were still barriers to crossing the street after the parade has passed, there was still the sense that we were all just human beings enjoying our time on earth.
The man shot the person right next to my friend, and there were pools of blood at the victim’s feet after multiple shots to the chest, and the police took a very long time to arrive despite being located down the block, and had the shooter’s aim been slightly unsteady, my friend could have been shot on accident for another person’s involvement in a gang, or drug dealing, or whatever it was, in a neighborhood in Brooklyn where this type of thing isn’t all that uncommon.
What I’m saying is, even if I sometimes say I hate people when I’m being crushed by costumed New Yorkers, it’s not true. I love people, and I love you.