Beyond the Bubble: The Hunt for Yellow Parktober
Submarines, in reality, aren’t very magical at all. They’re dark, depressing places. There’s a reason one of the most highly paid jobs in the Navy is submariner: no one really wants to do it. Still, we romanticize submarines. Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) ; The Hunt for Red October (1990); Das Boot; “Yellow Submarine;” Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea(1870). We even see the submarine’s most violent military applications as an expression of a mysterious world beneath us, an inaccessible deep far removed from anything of mortal conception. Each new giant squid caught on a few frames of film is some great revolution of the extraordinarily untamed depths.
So what are Manhattan’s untamed depths? Well, being both quite busy and quite sensible, I have decided not to venture randomly into the tunnels underneath the city. To be perfectly frank, I don’t want to know what exists under these streets. Gigantic rats, light-starved possums, cockroaches the size of Subarus or Mad Max-esque vagabonds may populate imaginings of a large city’s subterranean layers, but the reality is likely more banal. Still, venturing into the catacombs viewed only from rushing subway windows seems an inadvisable idea for someone whose fears include almost anything likely to be found in such a subterranean world, not to mention being underground in and of itself.
So I’ve decided instead to devote myself to finding some above-ground wonders, dedicating myself to entirely non-subterranean forays. If my dog Gwen (I miss Gwen) were here, I’m sure I could make a wonderful “We’re not in Vermont anymore, Gwen” moment. It’s not a very safe-feeling world to a kid from a valley within a valley within a valley in some small corner of northern Vermont. My town is best known for its contributions to the science of snowflake photography and for a children’s book written—I swear, you can’t make this up—to explain why its shops are closed in winter. (Actual reason? Because it’s ridiculously cold and no one is there. Given reason? Adventures of store owners in far-flung fiefdoms.)
This island of Manhattan is a world away from my comfort zone, and that is what makes the experience so interesting. The acidic burn of smoke wafts through the air, shouts and horns drift through the streets and I must simply exist through it all, attempting to live in an environment devoid of familiar comforts. And that’s all for the best, because my hunt for the proverbial submarine--the magical, majestic thing far removed from the norm--has flourished in the foreignness of this island.