We tried a different walk time today.
Last evening, you’d think there was a concert being held in our neighborhood park. People crossed the avenue in groups of three and four, arriving from all directions. They wheeled toddlers on bikes. They gathered in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking easy passage.
Parks have been left open. Presumably, people were to use their best judgment about entering, treating the decision as a gift, an oasis to be rationed and protected. People do not think this way.
We’re lucky to have one of the city’s most serene spaces just across the street, unruffled, beloved for its well-tended foliage, circular paths, peace. There is a footbridge where people sometimes set up easels. There are crocuses and statues and small-town smiles. There are benches for reading, thinking, crying. People, here, love their little park. Now, it could have been a refuge, even for a few minutes. It could have helped.
Instead, I imagined the human swell from four floors up and decided to try 10:36 instead of 7:50 or 8:02 or 9. Across the street, voices rose up from the playground, the lawns. Body after body poked through the trees. Everything was different.
Charlie walks just twice a day now. We take the stairs to the lobby and hurry out the front door. At first, he was afraid of the concrete, painted to a shine. Slick. Not like his steps in the park, the pretty flagstone, the grip under his feet. It is good that we live on the fourth floor. He manages the three flights. He manages them better than I.
My daughters and I have been inside since last Wednesday, nine days ago. I had the feeling in my belly walking home that day, the feeling that it was time to come in. To stay in. This past summer, both of my daughters decided to move home for a bit, one after graduating from college, the other to take a new job and apply for her Master’s. For the previous four years, I lived in Apartment 4A with just Charlie, missing my girls, so far away they were from New York. We have done well, navigating a small space, appreciating different habits, as we did, really, throughout their growing up in our house in Texas. They have come to like the city, finding work that they love, figuring out the subway, finding a friend or two. I am relieved that they are here now, that we are together, despite the tight quarters. My mystical side would have me believe that they somehow knew to be here.
On the sidewalk, Charlie trots quickly, the new routine already settled in his bones. We turn the corner only in the morning, when the street is empty. I keep my eyes peeled. A figure looms down the block. Hurry, Charlie. Everyone’s a virus. In we go, up the steps, careful not to slip and fall.
A busy winter!
My short story, “Specimen,” will be published in Folio, American University’s literary magazine, this coming Spring. Also, Woven Tale Press has accepted an essay of mine for publication this Summer.
Check back in a few for details, and thank you, as always, for reading.
Just something I wrote on the subway. To buy a paperback or ebook…Click here
A piece about Andrew Morton’s latest book. Click here
Thank you for reading my essay in today’s New York Post. And for my strong and courageous fellow single moms, congratulations to you all for so many jobs well done. Happy holidays. Click here
Horns and sirens would be nice. Click here.
Happy to have a new gig at The New York Post. First up, a smart book about the future of higher education. CLICK HERE
Demolition of brick and stone…and what else? In the January issue of This Old House, CLICK HERE
Doormen who draw, porters who paint, handymen who strum…Click here