There are cherry stains on my fingers. I stopped in the Union Square farmer’s market to select, sample and salivate over the fruits on offer. Of course, I tried the cherries. I see the tiny stains like temporary birthmarks across my fingertips and walk past the gated and locked Grammercy Park. You can get inside with a key, but this exclusive space is clearly for the elite only, as evidenced by the lone, well-dressed gentleman
seated on a bench within. Who needs such immaculate gardens anyway? Three days ago, I hiked up my skirt and jumped into the warm waters of the Long Island Sound. The beach. The water swells and moves as my heart whooshes blood around my body, the air teases my hair into something I recognise, something that feels more fundamentally me. I walk past the locked gates and check a text message, still shaking sand from my cell phone. Even in this concrete, overheated hideousness, I still have to find some semblance of self.
And that is where the battle begins.
The coast has my heart, New England a portion of my being. Once you’ve had fresh-shucked oysters at an outdoor patio, the salty bay area adding another dimension to the dish, there’s no going back. Lobster is supposed to be eaten outside with white wine, boiled potatoes and corn on the side; it makes a mess, after all, and who needs to ruin that white tablecloth? And until you’ve had an oversized scoop of the creamiest, most decadent ice cream, still managing to crunch grains of sand as the sun finally, fully sets, you don’t know the meaning of summer.
Still, living in the city, you do what you can.
Walking down second avenue, I cross the street to avoid more scaffolding, to better accept the breeze rushing crosstown. It’s not that hot, really, despite the sun being blistering. Without thinking, I slow my pace, and not only to avoid irritating the cut on the bottom of my foot, courtesy of an unseen, very sharp shell fragment. It’s hot. Too hot to rush, but not breathtakingly so I rub at the cherry stains on my fingers, refusing to budge. Like seasonal tattoos they cling, at least until the next application of city-necessary hand sanitizer. I smile. I keep walking and close my eyes, imagining the wind is salty, fresh and reeking of a place beyond America’s shores and the crunching below my feet is not broken glass but shell shards, rocks and endless grains of sand.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”