It has come to my attention that I should say much more about the nuances of solo travel, as a woman, yes, but especially as a wife and mother; and so at some point, I plan to address this, possibly in a different, broader space.
For now, I make my best attempt to reflect upon my few, sweet days in New York, because I can’t travel anywhere in this world without afterwards having to find myself in the experience, and this is doubly true when I travel to New York City. Most of my love for the place is purely hypothetical, but what I’ve realized in grieving moving away from Brooklyn and back to Colorado is that this is true for anyone who moves away—whether they lived there ten weeks or ten years. When you leave New York, you’re not merely letting go of what you found there. You’re always letting go of some magical possibility that exists in the air and in the energy. When people love New York, this is what they’ve tapped into.
So probably it goes without saying that I traveled home to Brooklyn last week beside myself with excitement and gratitude and simultaneously feeling the heartbreak of being back before I even got there. I’ve lost my identity in the place. I’m not a tourist, I’m not a vacationer; but I’m not really a part of anything happening now, nor do I share in that communal optimism of what might unfold. It’s like knowing the secret club exists, but I’ve had my membership revoked. I returned hungry to fill up on whatever I could get from the city, but suspecting that no matter how full I got, I wouldn’t be satisfied.
My suspicions are almost never incorrect, and this trip was no exception. I am weary and I am hurt, like a wrung-out sponge that was just seconds ago heavy with water. But I am also refreshed, and exhausted in that good way, the way you feel when you’ve fit so much goodness in you’re positive you didn’t waste a second.
This trip centered around Latonya’s release of WOMAN OF COLOR, which I had the high honor of working on in snippets. I remember its origins, sitting on my couch in Park Slope while I rocked—then!—baby Oak to sleep. And as the vision came to pass in more and more tangible capacity, I’m proud to say that I was BTS with some of the earliest drafts, not just editing words but also learning more about my friend. From a place of humility and vulnerability, I’ll tell you: I’ve battled my own demons, namely Pride and Insecurity, helping friends bring their passion projects to life. And from that same purely honest standpoint, I can’t express how proud I am of LaTonya, awed by her commitment, her bravery, and her openness.
Latonya, it was a gift to work with you on this masterpiece. It was also a gift to get your text late that night, a few months ago: “Please come to my launch party.” Because while I’d been itching for a trip back to the city, it was hard to justify the expense, and I was a little afraid of going back. With this invitation, my return grew legs of purpose, and reminded me that, even though I’m not there now, I have still been a part of something bigger than myself in New York. I reentered this state on Friday night and Saturday morning, gushing over this project and its creator.
Buoyed by this sense of purpose and the perfect Brooklyn spring weather, I savored everything else. I visited my everyday people, the community that made my Brooklyn life, in Park Slope. I had breakfast with Julie and meandered uptown to the Walt Whitman exhibit at the New York Public Library, still, after so many visits, marveling at its nooks and crannies, and its vastness, both physical and metaphorical. I had all the foods I’ve missed so much, mostly variations on breads with cheese and every kind of coffee. And Chloe and I wound the spiral of the Guggenheim, learning about Hilma af Klint, whose work was so spiritually moving, there will never be words to capture the feeling of standing before it. It was also here that I serendipitously bumped into a friend I’d not been able to schedule a date with, and if that doesn’t convince you of New York City magic, what could?
It wasn’t until “family dinner” on Sunday night that I realized it was all over, before it felt it had begun—both this visit and the short time we lived there. But much like my connection to the place has endured, so do the takeaways each time I go back. I’ve spent the last two weeks processing, not just my visit but myself. With a jolt of that city energy, I’ve found the means to check-in and assess what I’ve done in the years since we’ve left and how I compare to who I thought I’d be. I gave myself a shot of East Coast brusqueness and considered the answers to my own blunt questions.
No other place makes me do this. Maybe there’s no other place I allow to do this to me.
P.S. Since I’m neither a resident or a tourist, I’ve found I’m terrible at taking photos when back in New York. I did however get some quick videos of the various events and of time spent with friends, and all of those are saved on my Instagram Stories under “NYC”.