Last time in New York…

What to say about New york, everyone has an idea about what it means to be there, perhaps the most written about city. Last time I had said you could feel the energy flowing through it, like a channel in the ocean or the jet stream in the sky. It wasn’t that for me this time…I find myself walking down fifth avenue, just a few blocks south of the bottom edge of central park where every major luxury clothing, shoe and jewelry designer has a store, through crowds of people who, in spite of it being Saturday seem to be in work clothes and rushing looking purposeful. I wonder how many of these people are tourists like me, and how many actually walk on this section of fifth avenue regularly. A little off today I sometimes feel like I am swimming upstream, turning sideways to avoid a determined strut and ending up in the street because it actually seems easier to negotiate. With nowhere in particular to go it feels like the flows of traffic and people, the transiting clouds high above seen in the fraction of visible sky, all this could be standing still and we’d just wander back and forth, crossing occasionally and talking fast and impassioned about new life! Cassie and I are babies again at 25, awakening to parts of ourselves, and who we are with alarming synchronicity. It is so obvious to me now why I came to New York, just to sit on the wall of this enormous and beautiful cathedral in between the Gap, Just Cavalli and H&M, with my barefeet dangling and go through the laughing and crying story that details the annhilation of past selves and new birth. The two of us traced through these years, find ourselves once again together, the city and place don’t really matter because sometimes it feels like our souls are just meant to check in with each other in this life. When I sit across from Cassie sometimes I see the background shift from new york buildings, people, and the signs of conspicuous consumption to the pyramids, to our youth, to a beach somewhere in Washington, to our room in Berkeley, to anywhere really, the world swirls around as we breakdown and share. It’s not stories, its not gossip, its not this stuff, its how do you really practice loving yourself, what epiphany I had about the way I’ve been living my life, what I carry from my mother and how I plan to let that go and move on and not be hindered by my history, it’s where we make our intentions clear about who we want to be, and what we need to do to get there, it is a no holds barred, no judgements, no excuses, cut and shred whatever we are and build something new. These churches on fifth avenue offer the only architectural respite from steel and glass boxes. They have some green, some organic forms, and they demand a kind of calm while offering an anchor. Last night Emil and I had our last night, we had spent the day apart because I hadn’t felt well and he had some errands to run. I wanted to get out though so I walked around in the neighborhood of our hotel which I hadn’t done yet. The air was cold and a little wet, but not nearly as biting as when we first arrived. I wandered tribeca, finding a photo gallery, a very popular looking bakery, a huge green metal mermaid with magnificent breasts, and more cafes than I could hope to become a regular at. There were also tulips, and my first ideas for dinner. Emil and I walked arm in arm that evening along some of my same routes and after browsing menus settled on a little Italian place that felt very warm, it began to mist outside and the streets were wet black and orange from the streetlamps. Friday, and our last night. Emil and I met at our hotel last Sunday but hadn’t seen each other for over a year before that. He lives in Copenhagen, and I, well of course I live in Oakland.

We went to the moma, talked about art, had lunch together, talked about the cold and what we were up to. That first night we went to a movie and then laughed about how awful Forrest Whittaker was in it. We slept in the same bed, but not touching. The next day we went to Soho, walked and looked,
Tuesday we went to empire state building, shopping on fifth avenue, some time in the park, En Japenese Brasserie too, which was absolutely wonderful.
Wednesday we went to Brooklyn, pancake breakfast, botanical gardens and bonsais, laying in the sun in the grass, walked to park slope had bad food from smiley’s that made me sick, took train to DUMBO, walked around, went on the brooklyn bridge and sat on a bench in the middle, met up with Dan and Mia, but they were off to a show, which was sold out so Emil and I went to the Sweetwater and had a couple drinks, good music, nice bartender, great atmosphere, going home I tried to explain to him why each part of the Onion was funny. At first I think he didn’t get it, but he thought it was pretty cool that I was trying to explain the humor to him. I had no idea how much of the humor in there depends on being American and understanding and being fluent in the narratives we have.
Thursday Noguchi Museum in Queens, the Socrates sculpture garden, Bach concert, central park nap, Le Bernardin that night. Le Bernardin was amazing, I have never eaten at place like that with such ceremonial service and formal setting. The food was delicious but I was distracted by feeling feverish and the Somalier who kept describing wines as “nice” and “really good” adding that she thought we would really like them, which we did. Emil paid almost $500 for that dinner. No comment

Emil left and Cassie and I spent the last day and half together walking and talking as we do, tireless and utterly content until I actually lost my voice. But first we found our way to a large beautiful church that had been calling my name, in Morningside. I wanted to go in it before walking down the river so we went in. It happened to be the end of a high school chorale competition. The kids were posturing and posing but then opened their mouths and made god cry. Cassie and I were the only people in this huge breathtaking space, everyone else had left, and the winner’s of the entire competition walked back in and after playing around, flirting and looking tough for pictures, opened their mouths and standing a few feet apart in an arc sang. Sang doesn’t capture what they did because beauty was defined. Cassie and I cryed at the sound and then these kids, unaware I think of their power walked out laughing and jockeying again in to the last shades of light and we wandered again off down the Hudson bewildered and broken open to the crushing brilliance of life.


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