I fell to the ice-covered earth in the way I imagine a meteorite must fall, very sudden and uniquely electric. I was standing, walking, no hitting the solid, frozen tarmac in a painfully hilarious shock the way I did weeks ago; that slip was what I described as “not paying attention” and thinking of another time other than the one in which I inhabit. My thoughts may have been pure, then, but I stood out no more from the herd staring at screens, distracting themselves from reality, than I do when I have to bundle up because it’s cold outside, suddenly, in February. But this is the warmest season for me, this year, and one that prompts the occasional tear to slide down my cheek, as I watch the buildings cry their drips of melting ice, just as dirty and as suspect as droplets from sky-high air conditioning units in the summer.
A fallen angel, some might say; that was my nickname, a play on angel, as a child.
This morning one building’s sorrow hit my own cheek as I passed underneath. I wasn’t crying but the orb of water slid down my face as if we shared the same loss. But I’m not losing any more, even though this was never a game for me. It was a tumult of stairs and steps and cigarettes. It was bars I couldn’t remember leaving, words that were so meaningless, and the pinched faces of jealous others; I did nothing but exist, yet somehow the ethereal aura I can’t eliminate was too much. It was a competition where my numbers on Mega Millions never matched, even though I played each week because I wanted a better life for everyone. It was abject poverty when suddenly I was rich, and it was incredible wealth when suddenly I was poor.
I forgot how it was to stand on the ground until that morning, when imported Myer lemons were whipped up into an unexpected, warm and sweet winter lemonade. In the broad daylight, the chunks of cloud arranged themselves into a checkerboard pattern, and I sipped the beverage calmly, observing the sky’s light and airy blue arrange itself into opposite squares. There was the Plaza Hotel, to my left – where I still had yet to visit – and above, the snow-tinged tree arms reached up, no longer stiff and angry, but welcoming. Then there was that dark blue shock when suddenly, I felt my heart beat as if for the first time, and a warmth spread to my fingers and toes, which tend to lose circulation and whiten and curl in the cold. I was within and without, this park and this world, but could smell and feel more of the temperature than I ever have here. For this brief second, New York City allowed me inside, as if a reminder of our dreams every night, upon arrival, before we come forward to take our final bows and step back forever behind the heavy velvet curtains. My heart’s wings expanded. I smiled. Just as this heavy intensity of presence came, it went, and I was left pondering the experience.
New York City will do that to you, because there are many shooting stars here, but few of us never really experience the feeling of the earth. It came, it went. It was. It’s time to untie the stiff laces,and take off my boots. I aim to walk barefoot in the hills and hold your hand while we watch the odd meteorite fall to the sound of cicadas and the lanterns of fireflies without the streetlight sickness to obscure the view.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”