On March 25th, I had made a little promise to myself that I would kick up my blogging to twice a week! It was the day of our trek to the Sutro Baths, I was with my ex-roomie Amy and new half-roomie Justin... I took a ton of photos and thought, "yeah, this post will be great!" It's now May 13th. This is how long it took me to get to it. I really need to start making better promises.
That being said, I'm sitting here at the Ace Hotel in New York city, sipping on a German white wine and continuing to people-watch in this most fascinating place, and it's fun to think about that walk two months ago that now seems so distant- in all senses of the word.
I've been on an accidental extended stay out on the road, I left SF on May 3rd for work, and have just not returned. Mostly due to an incident with my back seizing up so badly that I could not lean over the sink far enough to spit out my toothpaste, and it took me five minutes to pick up the Advil I dropped on the floor. It was bad, I'd never felt anything so debilitating in my life, and I instantly had empathy for anyone I've seen walking slowly, sitting gingerly, or breathing carefully. So now, I have another few days to rest my body, nurture myself with good food (and, ok, some good wine too), and breath in deep. I find myself falling madly in love again with New York, seeing the streets through new eyes, familiarity mixed with awe, and there aren't enough hours in the day to drink it all in.
After spending nearly a week with Kellie in a quaint yet uber hip town called Rhinebeck, I took the Amtrak back down to Scotty's in the city, had dinner and vino, then at midnight, I headed out to fulfill a promise I had made earlier that day. I had a mission. It had been calling to me ever since 1999 when I first moved here (to be honest, it calls to everybody I'm sure), but I had never been! I was a resident of this city for over two years, I walked every inch of the island ten times over, I am an explorer, I should have been. But the lines... the lines always eluded me. "Midnight! That's when I'll go then", I promised. But whenever midnight came, I was always too beat, already cozied up on the couch, or fast asleep. But this was my birthday. And not just any birthday, the one after my 40th; My 41st. This is big, it's 40 plus a number... gulp. I was tired, I was cozied in with Scotty, I was beat, and I was almost fast asleep... but my promise to myself was bigger than all of these tonight. I put on my shoes, threw my bag around my shoulder, and headed out into the night... to The Empire State.
On my walk, I noticed just how many places were open in this town after midnight... there are grocery stores, health food shops, gyms, coffee houses, flower stands, you name it. It's one of the reasons I remember loving NY so much back when I lived here; you never had to worry about not being able to get anything, something was always open. About twenty minutes later, I arrived at my beautifully lit destination, and was happy to see the myriad of rope stands laid out for the long lines were sitting there lonely with no one weaving amongst them. It was just me and a handful of other tourists, getting lost because there was so much open space and no one to follow, just a splattering of maroon suits filled with the late shift folks peering around the corners at us and guiding us up escalators and into elevators.
When we reached the top, I was so taken by the view, it startled me. I really didn't expect to be blown away like this. It was truly magnificent. I walked around several times, stopping at all the corners, trying to aim my camera out into the lights and capture what my eyes were seeing. Yet, as much as I tried to document this incredible experience with my little lenses, it was futile. I succumbed to the fact that I was going to have to keep this vision in my head only, and find the words and the memory to bring it to light as best I could for future reference.
With that, I began to stare down at the buildings and really take it all in, describing it to myself as if I were telling it to a blind person. What I saw was a visual wonder...It was like my eyes were playing tricks on me, morphing the vibrant city I just walked up 86 floors from into a dull colored pop-up-book, buildings seemingly one dimensional glued to the floor and their million-window cardboard facades jetting up into the sky. The only color came from the yellow glow of the taxis, like fireflies they glided around the corners with their hazy headlights beaming in front of them, guiding them through the narrow black bands of this strange Gotham City.
Each day here brings me closer to life, closer to feeling like I'm truly living every moment, breathing up every smell, bird chirp, taxi honk, and humid breeze. Then again, each moment I spent in Rhinebeck felt like a deep cleansing breath filled with discovery and awareness of self, open spaces and room to hear your thoughts flow, reconnecting with the pulse of life. So, I guess I got the best of both worlds this week within my unexpected East Coast retreat. I'm thankful for the reconnection I have with myself, and I'm thankful that I got to sit more than a day in one place... being gifted the space to rest, discover, and revel in all of this life that is within me and around me.
Happy Birthday to my 41 year old self!
P.S. I'll get to that Sutro Baths post next... promise! ;)