Lingering Images from NYC and Boston

Thursday, May 5, 2016

On the butter-yellow staircase at Poet’s House, I always take a moment to pause. The staircase leads on to a room I wish I had discovered earlier, with book nooks and wide tables overlooking the water. The building is in an unlikely spot down by Wall Street, and I got a chance to revisit only on my final day in NYC. At the tail end of two weeks of traveling, I was fried and needed somewhere to set down my overstuffed bags. There’s not much romance in NYC for me anymore, definitely not as much as when I left the Pacific Northwest 6 years ago. The energy tires me out rather than excites me. But the people who carve out space there still serve me a big helping of homesickness. I slept on their couches and took up their time, huffing through the grey labyrinth of city streets to meet for coffee, dinner, an event, or a stroll.

Snickerdoodles meant to be shaped like bears (from a cookie cutter courtesy of the Barnard Library!) ended up as balloons.
I got to Boston by pure luck. The bus manager let me get on the bus departing earlier and during the ride, by text message, I found out that my original bus broke down before leaving NYC. Boston is a place where folks I dearly love call home, and I regularly have to make a pilgrimage there. My clearest memories of my time spent there are very different than in bustling NYC. Rolling around on a black and white carpet well after programming hours, telling a close friend my abridged travel narrative. Making balloon bear cookies in my host’s well-equip kitchen (see photo above!).

You like to think you have some continuity in your decision-making, that it follows a thread which can be traced back. I think most of us make narratives of our experiences, not just the writers, and mine was that I left the Pacific Northwest – and this sounds bad – because it had little to offer me. I wanted to get far away so that I could find something “else out there,” and I don’t regret having done that. Even this return doesn’t feel prodigal. If I resonated with somewhere else, I would probably be living there. But what my younger self couldn’t see about Washington is now in view; I now feel like there are too many opportunities rather than too few. I am excited to put down roots and grow tall branches here. I am also excited to clear out old spaces and make a new home here. I’m just at the very beginning, but the path feels right.