Return to New York. Always full of mixed feelings for me.
Back from my parents' house where kids can run out the front door and be free.
Where earlier in the week, before the spell of gorgeous dystopia, before heart-breakingly beautiful May weather in winter, the kids laughed and shouted in the snow.
Back from suburban streets that felt increasingly like a created landscape, where actors wore t-shirts riding bikes and big wheels on streets surrounded by mountains of snow that could only have been, on 70-degree February days, part of a Hollywood movie set.
Back from New England towns so lovely that you walk out of the library next to the Fire Station into the parking lot in a part of the downtown that is not particularly picturesque, that has no name, no park, no plaque, and you come face to face with this.
Back from kids sledding and riding bikes so easily, throwing on their jackets and boots. Back from big piles of library books and time and space to read them tucked in quiet corners of the house. Back from stretching under piles of cozy blankets into stretches of time. Back from staring out windows. Back from quiet train rides. Coffee in the morning chatting with my mom. Nights watching Bill Maher and John Oliver with my sister and dad. Back from giant taco dinners with the whole gang. Back from banging on the out-of-tune piano in the basement working on "The Jacobson Sisters and Jack" musical you're writing with your nieces and kids. Sipping a little glass of white wine in the evening, that moment of relief when caring all day for young (ish?) children that you've made it through and think, yes, I'm still upright, everything is sort of landing in its place. Back from "pajamatopia" as my oldest niece dubbed it. And back from the quiet that was at times too quiet for Wally and Petra after their cousins left mid-way through the week.
Back into playgrounds teeming with kids at any time of day. Back to music pouring out of all the windows. Back to everyone you meet working on a project, a song, a story. Back to bleary-eyed brunch goers sipping mimosas stumbling out of cafes with whole wide days ahead of them feeling that peace that comes from knowing any NYC street you turn down you are still headed straight for the center of the world.
Back to the community that has always drawn so many, from the South during the Great Migration, chased across artificial borders, sailing on high seas.
And yet, for me, this trip, away from a kind of community that communed in person only once, a community that feels fragile and magical and almost ineffable. It combines the intrigue and mystery that attached once to "meeting" someone online, through their writing (so very 1990s/You've Got Mail) with the currents that unified "mom bloggers" beginning a decade later (not that either of us would fall neatly into that category) with my personal history, writing dreams, sea dreams.
I am sure you have seen me mention writer/artist Sarah Bousquet many times on this blog along with writer/professor Amie Reilly. The latter is my mom-graduate-school friend and she introduced me to Sarah's blog One Blue Sail almost exactly a year ago. Since then I have followed that blue sail like a lifeline. It was almost too perfect when I found out Sarah lives and grew up in the enchanted seaside town where my mother's family had a house for over 40 years, the house and beach where I spent Christmasses and July 4ths and learned to swim and gazed for many of the best hours of my life out at the river out the back window of the house we called "the cottage."
Here Sarah writes about our IRL meeting. I have the sea shells in my pocket.
We began and continued so many vital conversations and as she wrote, the hanging threads remain. Hanging threads, entangled, jagged, swirling, multi-colored...turning and returning...my favorite kind.
It has been nearly 10 years since the last time I set foot in the cottage. One knows Thomas Wolfe is right. And yet, after this last visit, it feels like there are, in fact, so many infinite ways we might--at least fleetingly, in an enchanted moment, be able to return.