People hurried as time escaped them. Only a few minutes to go or they would be left behind. With tunnel vision, some walked fast, seamlessly weaving in and out of obstacles in their way while others made a mad dash. Some accepted defeat and strolled on the sidewalk as they were left behind in the warm breath of the night.
The boat had arrived. From afar, rows of lights on each deck of the huge sun-rusted boat were luminous against the backdrop of the moon and deep navy blue sky. With a small window of time, people sprinted to the top of the steps then slowed down to find the glass sliding doors still open. Some people continued to run.
Terminal ramps gave view to herds of people entering the boat. Tourists held on to one another baring teeth from wide smiles; some filmed themselves walking onto to the boat while others rushed to the top of the steps for a spot on the upper deck. Locals entered with less enthusiasm, choosing the least desired seats. An automated announcement welcoming passengers onto the Staten Island Ferry projected through speakers as the boat moved.
Locals settled on the inside of the boat uninterested in their surroundings. Many conversed while others read. Some had earphones dangling from their ears and others prepared to sleep.
Varying languages and accents consumed the atmosphere of the outside deck as tourists walked back and forth with excitement in their eyes. Spots along the edge of the deck were secured by people standing with smartphones, professional cameras and selfie sticks.
Little squares of light scattered on skyscrapers appeared larger than life and seemed close enough to touch. Group pictures were taken as the boat drifted further away from Manhattan; now the sparkly skyscrapers were small enough to fit into a photograph. Moving even further, two lights were seen piercing through the sky standing side by side where the Twin Towers used to be.
Dignified and green, the boat passed an icon. Brightly lit from the base and surrounded by the nothingness of the dark, she stood alone, her presence commanding. People turned their backs to her to take selfies with her famous crown, beautifully draped gown, torch of flame in her right hand and independence in her left.
A ferry passed, traveling in the opposite direction from Staten Island to Manhattan. Although on separate boats, tourists connected as friendly hands waved to each other from across the water.
The island appeared awake in the night. Soft and warm beige glows peaking through apartment windows, colorful business signs and hot white lights from a baseball stadium lit up the land as the ferry inched closer to the borough. An automated announcement was made: “Thank you for riding the Staten Island Ferry.” Fewer and fewer tourists took pictures as they began to blend in with the locals and prepared to exit the boat.