I’m a New Yorker by birth. I grew up in and around this mammoth city. And still. Sometimes the environment overstimulates me, especially when I’m coming back from a quieter place (which is almost anywhere), and double-especially when my body is still healing. (The subway feels threatening most of all! All the jostling. The shoving. The possibility of an accidental elbowing in exactly the wrong spot.) New York asks us to be alert, even if we’re not conscious of it. The sympathetic nervous system (or mine at least) is ready to zip into survival mode at any moment.
I know this about myself from previous recoveries and artist residencies, any long time I’ve spent away; it’s important that my reintegration into this city be gradual. The diving board tactic isn’t my game. Wading in slowly: that’s what’s best for me. So, if I can take the luxury of a weekend to do it, that’s what I do.
This weekend I arrived back in Brooklyn. The Verrazano Bridge greeted me with its wide open arms just like it has since my childhood. Drew and I took the subway into Manhattan, a practice for my work week to begin. After about three hours, my legs refused to hold me up. We took a cab home, where Audrey celebrated our arrival back, squeaking her plush dinosaur, where my writing desk and art supplies and plants have been waiting for the past month.
Sometimes the anxiety prevails. But as the days pass and I wade deeper in, I find myself more often standing in wonder and marveling: at street art; at comedic, hardy pigeons pecking the sidewalk; at countless windows reflecting the sky; at rows and rows of flowers outside bodegas; and at the strangers who themselves have their own struggles and losses and wishes and stories. And I feel just like I did as a kid when driving over the Verrazano Bridge: like I'm on my way home.