"In His Words | Stillness in the Move" from T Magazine
Teju Cole’s new book extols the streets of Lagos, Nigeria, where he spent his youth. Here, he expounds on what’s so great about living in New York.
I love dancing, and I especially love being in a club at 2 a.m., when one or three drinks, good company and a gifted D.J. collectively liberate me into my body. The place could be Barbès in Park Slope, where old-school Guinean grooves silver the air, or perhaps I’m atWindfall in Midtown, enjoying the latest Nigerian Afrobeats and Congolese ndombolo. Wherever it is, I stop my habitual overthinking and become, quite simply, a body in the half-dark.
But this is not the highlight of such evenings, for afterward is the journey home to Brooklyn. From the back seat of a taxi, the city unfurls before me as a series of illuminated sights. If we go down the West Side Highway, we’ll pass by the apparition of One World Trade and enter the Tarkovsky-like glow of the Battery Tunnel. If we take the F.D.R., there’s the jeweler’s display of the bridges: Williamsburg, Manhattan, Brooklyn, all those dreamy rows of diamonds. At such moments, the city is mine alone: its immensity, its beauty, its clear streets, its silent waterways. It is open in a way daylight would never permit. I lose myself in it and belong to it, a happiness no less real for being so fleeting.
Teju Cole’s “Every Day Is for the Thief” will be published by Random House on March 25.