I haven’t seen this 1990 Camry in something like a year, and the damn thing hasn’t moved an inch from the corner of 31st and Madison Avenue. I don’t know who owns this brown Toyota, cloth seats, automatic and all. It runs on disabled plates and it’s seen better days, but I love it.
When I came out to New York from a college town in northern California, Manhattan was a sensory overload. When I’d have a free day on the weekends, I’d go on walks just to soak in the buildings, the people, the scale of the city. I’d walk from the bottom of Madison Ave up a couple of miles to the 80s and 90s in the Upper East Side.
This Camry was a part of those day-long, wearying acquaintances with the big city just as much as the glossy windowpanes on Madison Ave’s shopping districts, as the dizzying glances at the Empire State Buildings, as the scurrying urgency of running through a busy intersection as the light goes yellow.
In Manhattan, the pizza place you liked went out of business then became a laundry, then a hardware store, then a coffee shop, and now it’s some restaurant of an ethnic group you’d never heard of. What I mean to say is that everything is always changing, but it feels like it always stays the same. At least, that’s what this Camry is telling me.