Sunday, April 15, 2012

Relics of Our Recent Past


Over the last couple of weeks, James and I have visited a couple of places that have taken us swiftly back to our first few months in New York.

We're fast approaching six years in the city, so visiting these places has a kind of tender, homesick feel to it.

We visited my aunt and uncle's apartment on the Upper East Side, where we lived when we first moved here with a few suitcases, five boxes of books and pans, and not much else.  We didn't have an apartment, and so much was unsettled.  It was brief, but we didn't know it was going to be brief, so it felt like forever.  The UES is full of well appointed buildings with doormen and fresh flowers in their lobbies.  To avoid the crowds of Lexington and Madison, I would run down the wide sidewalks of Park Ave and look into every building's lobby.  The feeling of being there, but knowing somehow that I didn't belong, never failed to make me feel lonesome.

This photo, taken Saturday, is in Washington Square Park, in Greenwich Village, near NYU.  We wandered through in the late afternoon, when everyone was out milling around in the perfect spring weather.  We both spent a ton of time here during our first two years--James for school, and me by choice.  I'd meet James for lunch, or shop, or go to readings.  Now there's nothing to draw us down, so we never go.  Walking by the NYU buildings and through the park filled with students and the random jam-group playing American Pie, I remembered meeting James's classmates, and meeting up with him for poetry readings.  Being new to the city and wondering if the subway system would ever feel less than terrifying.

I've had a curious feeling of sadness as we visited these relics of our recent past.  I'm glad I think of this city as home, and for that little baby in my arms, but I have a sweet sadness for the memory of James and myself--brand new to this city, happy and scared of what lay ahead.

Nostalgia, as I understand it, was originally considered a disease, and was first described as "severe homesickness".

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