I haven’t lived in NYC in nearly twelve years, and decide today to use a soon-to-expire train ticket into Grand Central. Other than checking my watch to catch my train, a 3 o’clock coffee date with a friend is the only time-sensitive item on the agenda, a secure mooring in an unplanned day.
“Serendipity” and “Chance” are the border collies nipping at my heels as I take off toward my old stomping grounds, Washington Square Park, circa 1971. In an all-day rain that could dent the mood of a tourist, and even me, the “walkabout” theme planted in my head seems misguided.
But I keep on puddle-hopping down once-familiar blocks, rediscovering how to be in the rain instead of plotting refuge from it. The neighborhood is both unrecognizable and unchanged by time, and I am a homing pigeon searching for…what? (Anything?) Ghosts of who I used to be, how I used to feel, flit and dart into my subconscious, attempting to reconcile with who I am now.
I duck out of the rain and into a sliver-sized storefront on MacDougal Street, placing my order at the counter. A minute later, a bite into the nirvana-filled pita pocket simultaneously nails me to the moment and catapults me back in time. I am an 18-year-old art student in Landlubber jeans; the first dribble of tahini running down my chin to christen my new life, spread out before me against the city skyline.