I’ve spent more years with New York City than with any man. The city’s hands are gritty and I no longer crave the grip of those steel fingers reaching for the sky, the ever more, ever opportunistic spires, the never delivering, never loving silence of concrete. But promises keep the patient. The city’s greatest feat may be how long it’s able to seduce the intelligent, a glass bottle for intricate ships or a moving car with no exit for the frantic fly.
Which of my choices has kept me here so long? My favorite NYC decision — greener than grey, reminiscent of the ocean and chosen by the thin pulsing skin of my chest — to learn to teach yoga, after an instructor brought a retreat flyer to the café I managed. If I did choose it; maybe transformation is always choosing us.
And if the rigid machinery of history unspun itself right now – I got my unfractured heel back, the tattoo artist apprenticeship in hand, a rented roof over my head – I’d still keep hatching a plan to leave in six weeks, sitting on this rock in Central Park with Sheila. The physical properties of rocks are the end result of the processes that formed them, and over time rocks can transform from one type into another. The most beautiful and devastating thing about time is change. Metamorphic rocks are formed by being subjected to different temperature and pressure conditions than those in which the original rock was formed.
Failure is not an option.
Failure tastes like the first sip of liquor; it stings, but wants to go down easy, pushes you away but lures you back in. Failure wears high heels, because failure isn’t actually a failure, it’s more of a misguided friend. Favors the small screen over the big picture, whispers drunken words in your ear: envy, lost, too late. Success doesn’t live for the party, it’s too busy spreading it’s toes in the grass and writing poems about rocks.
Sheila is talking about the route from Portland to Seattle to La Conner to Los Angeles, and I am forgetting that people the world over dream of New York. Travelers think this city is a heroic stag, an impressive spectacle of determination, but it’s a cheetah. Slick and calculating, cheetahs are the fastest land animal; they clock 40mph during a sprint, they stalk prey and then charge towards it, trip it during the chase, and bite its throat until it suffocates to death. Also, they breed throughout the entire year.
Two blondes exposing hungry legs to the first showing of sun in months, smiling. Smiling with eventual finally spring, smiling because so soon I will be gone. Going, with the weightlessness of loss, the salty savory smell of leaving, the bitter sliding down into the dark of the throat as the sweetness of anticipated arrival hits the tip of my tongue.
No one’s doubts or proclamations, not even my first failed attempt at Los Angeles years ago, holds any weight against the persistence that pulls me. Surrender pulls too, like the moon will pull anything on earth. The earth holds onto everything except the water, which the moon has its way with daily. In circuitous failure fashion, the small moon-shaped holes cratered into my pores hold seeds waiting for a someday in the sun.