So far the best thing I've seen in New York City has been an 11-month-old baby girl named Arden.
Yesterday's Coney Island-bound F train was packed with briefcase clutchers, double-bass haulers, suitcase draggers, and the like. Clinging to a pole in our midst was a small-boned young mother with a blond baby in a front pack. This baby was having the time of her life. She was thrilled by the crowd, and she would lean out of her pack to pat our sleeves and to flash us the most brilliant two-toothed smile you have ever seen. Every one of us in that circle was enthralled. She was like a queen with her court, and her mother was so loving and so engaged with her child and so proud of her happiness, though not at all shy about letting strangers interact with her. It was a glorious moment of connection among strangers--mostly wordless, mostly transmitted by eye contact; no irony, no discomfort, just an intense communal pleasure in the light of this little girl.
The scene made me feel so hopeful about humanity's possibilities for joy. Dear little Arden, thank you for that smile.