1:58 / Moment, New York City

Jazz by the Central Park lake with descants of cop car sirens, screaming children and the quiet tread of ballet dancers

It’s a summer evening in Central Park. The sun is shining in that late-evening way, there’s music in the air and a smell of hot grass and melting ice-cream.

I fell into this place, like Alice down the rabbit hole. A fold in space that didn’t exist on my ‘Things to Do’ list. The waves of that tuba fixed me to the ground and there was nothing I could do.

I am manic when I travel. Especially when I’m alone. Especially when it’s New York.

I remember once getting back to my dorm room at midnight and wondering why I was so so so tired. My legs hurt. I did the maths and realised I’d walked for 13 hours straight, with maybe 20 minutes of rest (I’d sat down for lunch) in between.

But this is about a moment that wasn’t, a slip in time.

The plan was to walk to Rockefeller Centre from Columbus Circle — I had an hour before I needed to be at Carnegie Hall for a piano concerto, and it seemed like a good idea to walk on the grass instead of the pavement so I cut through the park.

And then I heard the music.

A brass band was playing by the lake and a minute became an hour.

I love music like this — with no pretensions, just there for the taking, accompanied by all the sounds of life — people walking past on their phones, speeding cars, children screaming, laughter.

They’re playing a light jazzy version of ‘Apologise.’ A couple sits on a mat nearby, holding hands. Somewhere further off a child runs after a ball.

And then, just like in the movies, ballet dancers appear and start moving to the music.

My lungs will not work.

Moments like this happen in one long breath. Exhale and everything is lost.

The music plays, the band grinning cheekily at the young girls, who just smile the cold, sweet smile of performers everywhere, and dance. Perfectly and in unison.

I find air, breathe a little and just like that it stops. Some of the ballet girls laugh. A bit of fun on their way to class.

They start to walk away, their steps so light they barely touch the floor…

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