Thank you New York for taking me from California’s sunny arms and placing upon my forehead your wintry kiss. For the rusty leaves of fall, creaking upon the trees, reminding me that despite what feels like a lifetime on beaches, I will never be a sun and surf girl. No, that is work for me and sandy shores have been my office place and my paycheck has come from wearing shell necklaces. I know some mermaids…they are girls with sparkles for eyes and skin that has bathed in the sodium of the sea. Delicious and free and warm with tangles in their hair, they ride life’s waves on the backs of sea horses. How much I have wanted to be one of them and on my best days sometimes I have been as deep as the ocean. But no, I am a mountainous creature, full of dark caves, frosty edges, tall and easy to fall from, peaks and valleys, and always high, high as a kite. I am not tempted by salt but by the sweetness of herbs. The heather and pine and the heavenly scent of magic grass burning. I know now that my heart lies not in the splash of the wave but in the crisp whispers that blow in the air channeled between valleys and carried up to the peaks. And this season, this which you call fall, here in this big city, is a season reminiscent of that. Autumn leaves/bitter breeze.
Thank you New York for reminding me that I am not a beach bum/bunny/babe and neither will I ever be a city fox, but I am deep down a ‘mountain girl’. That name first given to me by my childhood love, a boy who took me to the Himalayas and made me his own. He opened my eyes so wide to that sort of love, they have never closed again. The best lovers I have known have been mountain men. Boys who have dipped their feet in an ice-melted stream. Boys who have drunk tea in the morning mist and stood with me under a million-star-sky, blowing tiny puffs of breath into the night. Boys who have promised me Tibet, treks, Kilimanjaro, the moon... Thank you New York for making me walk your blocks – they reminded me how much I love using my legs. That I am never entirely satisfied by the comfort of a car seat, and a belt across my chest should be a bag upon my back. Thank you so much for your skyscrapers, they made me understand how much I was craving craning my neck to look upward in humility at something so high, you wonder how it was created in the first place. Thank you for your bookshops, quiet crannies, shelves full of knowledge that I needed. Deep in one of them I found a book of translated Chinese poetry called, “When I find you again, it will be in the mountains”. What a name, what a thought. And I did not dedicate that line to any boy in that moment, any ex-lover, or lost family and friend, not to anyone but my own spirit that has been in ‘wandering’ for months now.
I am grateful for your cafes, so many of them like the tiny holes in the hills. Cosy and cute. With scarves around my neck I sat watching the steam rise off hot drinks, and wrote with the peace I have only found in one other place. And for the long hours you have offered me in the quiet of Brooklyn, in the parks across the city, on the subway between stops, in the backs of taxis and sitting out on fire escapes. These hours that allowed my mind to wander, and it wandered far enough to find my soul and take her hand and bring her home.
Many thanks for your people, so weathered by the changing winds, the harshness of a life constantly climbing, but so inspired by the zeniths they have reached, the things they have seen that no one else knows.
As you can see, o wondrous city, my imagination has thought that you are a mountain range. The season fooled me into believing it. And now on this last dark morning, looking out at the peaks of Brooklyn Bridge, with their lights like tiny villages on cliffs, the tiniest flicker of sunlight on the 5am horizon, it is not hard to see why. Thank you, for reminding me where my heart lies.