East Harlem, various

I just got back from Virginia. I went to visit some loved ones that I dearly miss, and, while I was desperate to keep them near, I missed the city more than any other geographical location in which I have ever lived. I am hesitant to call New York home, and I balk at those who refer to me as a New Yorker (I am a nothing-er), but this place is as close to a geographical home as I have ever had.

Oddly, when the Manhattan skyline appeared alongside I-95 in a hazy blur, I felt a strange wave of sadness come over me. A wave of nostalgia for something I have not yet lost. For I am certain that someday I will move away from here in my search for the ever-elusive home of my own, and I will return to New York from time to time and see it just as I was seeing it in that moment. And that knowledge made me I feel that I was coming home for a visit and not to stay for good. But when does anyone ever come home for good?

I know I won’t be here forever, and I know I don’t truly want to be, but that knowledge does nothing to lessen the present pain of my future loss.

Not long after Manhattan became a permanent reality, I started dreaming of San Francisco and Wyoming and Montana. In truth, I want it all. I want to be here, and I want to be there, and I want to be everywhere else forever. But I won’t be anywhere forever and that is too much to bear sometimes.

I was telling my best friend about all this, and he said “Thank goodness.” As in, thank goodness I feel and want and dream and desire, even if my desires conflict each other and become a burden to me. He knows me well. And he’s right. I shouldn’t attempt to quell the desire merely to relieve myself of the sadness of loss. Life is loss. Thank goodness I’m living.

Today was my first day back, and I spent the day exploring my neighborhood, something I haven’t spent much time doing, regrettably. It’s a beautiful place. Keith Haring’s “Crack is Wack” mural is just a few blocks from my apartment, and I must admit that I never knew it was painted onto the wall of a handball court. Awesome.

I had some flippin’ amazing tacos at Taco Mix, and when I was 50 cents short, the dude at the counter just smiled and waved me on without a trace of annoyance or frustration on his face.

A group of middle-aged Hispanic folks were playing dominos outside a deli on 104th Street, and their laughter and heavily-accented jesting made me long for a community such as theirs.

This place and these people are beautiful. Yes, there is much darkness and cruelty alive in the world, but people are capable of loveliness and kindness and beauty. I am lucky to be here now. I am lucky to call this place home. And I will be lucky to miss it someday.

 

Streets walked: 118th St. to 3rd Ave. to 128 St. to Crack Is Wack Playground to 2nd Ave. to 124th St. to 1st Ave. to 118th St. back to 119th St. to Pleasant Ave. to 120th St. through Thomas Jefferson Park to 1st Ave. to 111th St. to FDR to 111th St. to Mini Avenue Whose Name I Don’t Know to 110th St. to 1st Ave. to 106th St. to FDR to 105th St. to Park Ave. to 106th St. to 5th Ave. to 105th St. to Madison Ave. to 104th St. to 5th Ave. to the Conservatory Garden to 5th Ave. to 104th St. to 1st Ave. to 116th St. to Taco Mix to Pleasant Ave. to 117th St. to Target to Park Ave. to Home

Sights Seen: “Crack Is Wack” mural, Kindly neighbors

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