It’s 80 degrees and sunny in LA and I miss New York. I miss the stinky garbage and the hot concrete on those shady streets downtown with the wisdoms scrawled into them. I miss the buzz, the other buzz that isn’t the nine lane freeway buzz and the threat of drought in the air. I miss the red brick facades and the ladders coming down off the balconies and the trumpet players in Washington Square Park.
I’ve been here six months now and I’m realizing how hard it has been to move. We had New York on our own terms. We’d come in and come out. Oh, the out and oh, the in. We loved returning to the intersection on Canal and West Broadway, spotting the rebels, the mavericks, the kooks out for their first walk in days. We loved leaving, too. I will never forget when you first took me to Pennsylvania. I fell asleep in your lap and woke up to the smell of river and grass and damp sweet heavy night as they wound down the window.
We stayed the weekend while hurricane Irene blew through, scattering leaves and twigs and felling a few trees across the canal. The air was pregnant that summer, every summer. We had coffee and pancakes and I took photographs of you in your all black long sleeve pajamas and bare feet, reading the inscriptions on your bottles of flower essences, feet on the coffee table, your face like Michelangelo.
Just a month or so later, we were back and I had a few rental houses lined up for us to look at. You picked me up from the airport and had a hot roast dinner and a rollie cigarette ready in the passenger seat. We drove through New Jersey and across the majestic Delaware in Pennsylvania and stayed at your brothers house for a long weekend. We drank Prosecco on the old porch and danced barefoot indoors.
A year later, I would walk the tow path along the canal and tell you how high the corn was growing. You were traveling, playing your music to different audiences every night, and I was traveling too, along that beaten dirt and gravel path, watching the subtle changes in the landscape, familiar with almost every tree, almost all the grasses. I would run my hands along the tops of them as they swayed in the evening breezes, the moon high above the river bed.
The next year when I miscarried, I sought solace in that forest. It was only when we mounted the hill before descending into the valley that I felt free to grieve, to enter that dark forest of grief within myself. I swam in the river a lot, at first afraid of what lived under the mud within it, and then grateful for its constant presence, its soothing cool in summertime, the green pressing all around, the wide dominance of it in winter with the shards of white ice and snow floating down it.
I hated having to burn oil to warm the house. I didn’t love the water pressure in the shower. We never found anyone we could really relate to out there, no one really like us. But god did I love it there. I didn’t want to leave. Not one bit. I still don’t. But I have. I have left and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I was pregnant there, walked the deep snow with my heavy belly and heard only my breath and my footsteps in that snowy cover. I loved the deer and the safety I felt. Always safe, always welcomed.
Julius was born at 919 River Road. I was born, too. I think part of me is still embedded in the floor boards there where my first born burst out of me. I left her there. Maybe she will never leave. It is her house as much as anyone else. Will we return one day? I don’t know. Will we truck all of our belongings across country again? God that was an effort. But in this moment now, I fantasize about it, about moving back to New York, back to that house where I was born.
I always wanted my children to have that forest, those animals. I sense we will return someday, I’m not sure when it will be. Maybe in our old age, maybe in a few years. A sense of belonging. I’d love to feel that. That wild city, those gentle hills. They will be with me forever. Until my reunion (or a resolution) it’s you and me California, you and me.