This week, New York caught me by the hood of my winter coat that I still had to wear, with many layers underneath, this late in the season. It’s kapha time, as those in yogic and auyervedic circles express, and all that means is I’m moving forward, yet tugged back, experiencing the sensation that time is standing still on these treadmill streets. Things are better, and then they’re static, and I feel the teasing grip playfully pulling and not letting me go.
But these jests aren’t funny any longer; no more amusing to my soul than the caustically screeched “go back to your own country” that rattled more than the ancient subway cars yesterday morning. I’m not in grade school, although some people and this city act as if they never left. I was the only one that called this woman out, I was the only one that cared.
People do care, though, and they lit up my heart and evening with warmth and real love, which I’ve only truly experienced for six months of the past three years I’ve been living in this playground. We all know it’s only fun if you have the money to pay for the ferris wheel because that’s where you can best see the skyline. Instead, we, my collective, hide from the bullies, avoid playing dodge ball and know we’re going to be picked last for the team, so it’s cheap happy hours and Indian buffet specials. It’s $6 for the best Pakistani food and authentic chai, and a stop by Goodwill, just not the one in Soho because I’m sure, we’re sure, they jack up the prices there. It’s a Groupon for that first date, and an empty subway car when you’re already late, because no one, not even the adorable misfits and the misunderstood among the kids with the best lunches ever takes the empty subway car.
My revels here are ended and they went out the only way I know how, with the honorable and the beautiful. We have to keep our heads down and that new pencil case to ourselves because otherwise it’s wrenched from our hands and thrown on the school roof. I’ve seen it happen before, but not to me. The worst I suffered was stolen lunch money, but that’s no joke to some who don’t know from where their next job will materialize. But it’s warming to know, during these last, cold winter days, that we can get together as the result of chance, share our stories and be open without judgement, without pretense and without hiding under a pile of coats in the cloakroom, because it’s easier than being shoved into the lockers again.
Somewhere and sometime again, we will dance in the open grass and make daisy chains under the windy blue sky, but I can’t wait for the promise of such a day in New York City. So I turned around and looked into New York’s eyes, smiled a little sadly, and gently removed their fingers from the edge of my hood. I see the sunwarmed palm ahead of me, as I bend to lace my boots one last time, and prepare to find clover in a bigger field. The bridge is open, the traffic moves calmly and I start to walk over the river, one firm step at a time.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”