It’s quiet and slightly routine, but still the best part of my day. Every Monday through Friday, at around 1:30 or so, I leave my office desk for my lunch break: 1 hour to roam around – to wander, get lost and find my way back. Sometimes, I’ll utilize this time efficiently by reading a novel while I eat. Other times, I’ll sit in an open public space and people watch – discreetly of course.
But by far, my favorite location is the rooftop. It’s situated just one floor above my office and offers an expansive view of Brooklyn from seven stories above. Yet, the rooftop is selective in who it grants access to. A crazy contraption fastened on its door warns potential trespassers of the consequences of encroaching, “Alarm will sound. Emergency exit only.” I hold my breath and push the door anyways: no sirens, no sound, and no alarm.
Since then, I bring my lunch there whenever the weather permits. From its height, everything takes on new life. Perhaps, it’s because I rarely get to see from such a perspective, but my view begins to look systemic and orderly, like the gridlines of a map. Although formulaic, the organization is what’s beautiful. It reminds me of a familiar experience every traveler at some point in his or her life has encountered. It occurs a few minutes after lift off, when your plane continues to ascend at a steady rate into the clouds.
If you’re lucky enough to be sitting next to the window, you instantaneously have the front row seat to one of the most breathtaking man-made views the world has to offer. Suddenly, the outlines of a city begin to reveal itself. The buildings are small, the cars smaller and the people – barely even visible. Roads intertwine with each other, connecting to highways that lead to streets and alleys. Immersive bodies of water thin out and plot their way into becoming streams and lakes. The entire city becomes latticework.
Moments like these remind me that my vantage point from the ground is exclusive and entirely limited. With my two feet planted on the floor, I forget that complexity exists. By complex, I do not mean difficult to comprehend; intricate is perhaps a better definition.
While “complex” is somewhat negative in connotation, “intricate” implies a certain artistic influence or convoluted type of beauty. Intricacy defines the NYC skyline, and the delicately spun webs of an ambitious spider. It defines the outlines of your fingerprints – no two in the world are alike, and it most certainly characterizes my view from the rooftop: so picturesque that you find yourself pushing open doors despite warnings.