I spent the weekend revisiting the City that I tried to make my 2nd Home. This time I visited it alone.
Yes, my flip flops were in the corner of his apartment on Dorchester in Brooklyn, and my satin robe with the pink trim was on the back of his door. There were tampons in the bathroom, nail polish on the dresser and art that I created adorned every room along with pictures of us together. And his key was on my keychain so that I was always welcome.
I visited often. But it never became the nest we both intended it would for me.
Moving about in this giant City was difficult for an empath. Too many people’s everything screamed like screeching brakes. It went right through me as if I were opaque and leaving metal shards. For five and one half years I tried hard to love it as much as he did; because he did. Visiting nearly every month with the exception of a few periods of time when that was near impossible or we weren’t doing well as a couple. Making every important event for his writing, direction and the theater company; including many to which I contributed. I would fly on rare occasions. Sometimes I would drive through the night. But, most often, I would take the train to Penn Station and he would meet me by Dunkin’ Donuts to escort me home. I struggled to find my way safely in the boundary-less chaos. I was always frightened by it and embarrassed at this shortcoming of my own under the circumstances.
But, let me be clear. The City wasn’t our undoing. It was simply a difficult variable for me; and probably for him as well. Our undoing was that I was opaque in the first place; and that is what needed to be fixed.
So, this weekend, against the sound advice of everyone, I packed my courage and surrendered myself to the City for 24 hours.
I flew into JKF from my business trip in Atlanta and took a cab to midtown. I managed the D Train up to the Bronx to catch a Yankees game at the stadium we frequented for years and back to midtown safely despite weekend schedule changes. I walked and enjoyed the lights. My room had a city view so I sat in the middle of my bed admiring it and thought about a great many things ~ what went wrong, our unanswered differences, and lost potential. We had something truly unique. But, I spent even more time gathering a blustering quiet within as I created an internal space where I was whole, safe and loved.
I was awake before dawn the next morning and took the F Train to Chambers. I was concerned that walking the Brooklyn Bridge would ache. We walked it the first time I visited. We did so as well on our 5th anniversary and many times in between. But, much to my surprise, I felt entirely at peace. I hazard to say that I felt more so this time than any before it. I took my time remembering how it felt with him; and took note of how it now feels without. I like them both.
I meandered Park Slope by the old brownstone and then strolled to Little Purity. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten there alone. The waitresses who have been loving our love affair for years cried a little with me when they realized it would be ‘our’ favorite booth for one. They said “mami, are you okay?” dried my tears, fed me, lectured me in Spanish with familiarity and love about looking forward and not back, and then sent me on my way to Prospect Park knowing that they would likely never see me again. Strange, the family we build along the way. I let the sun soak my face just off the loop while listening to Little League and the nearby 5K. This park, like the Brooklyn Bridge, always did feel easy to me.
Before I walked the High Line I made a visit to the West Village. During the daytime, devoid of events and the ego energy that neighborhood holds, it feels more accessible. I sat outside the theater where I first heard his writing so many years ago and remembered that evening fondly ~ sheer joy at his work, the strange fascination his friends had with me, the way he ‘saw’ me back then, and the fact that we spent the next 24 hours tangled up in bed with a connection that neither of us knew was possible. Nostalgia, not sadness, followed. I don’t lose any of that or my immense love for this man that I hold to this moment in time. I take all of that with me.
The only thing left was to collect my suitcase and make my way to Penn Station for Lake Shore – Train 49. He hadn’t met me at the airport; he didn’t even know I was coming. And now he wasn’t at the train station thumbing through his iPhone while I waited.
Despite all of this, with proper boundaries I now had a sense of Self. I wasn’t opaque anymore. I moved freely and I was present. I occupied my own space. And, most of all, I wasn’t afraid.
Then I boarded the last train out.