We just returned from a short visit to New York, our first since we moved away nine months ago. I had a hard time packing for the trip. We had a lot of different activities planned, but it’s also April. The idea of spring in New York can conjure images of blooming crocuses and strappy heels. In fact, April weather is a capricious mix of early spring and late winter. There are long and sunny days, but they still share the stage with heavy rain, blustery frigid air, and sometimes even snow. The weekend weather forecast called for both strappy shoes and rain boots.
But my suitcase chronicles weren’t really about the weather, so much as my identity. I just wasn’t ready to show up in New York feeling like I came from another place. I needed my wardrobe to announce my sense of belonging: I AM BACK, and NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
In many ways, nothing had changed. We were not treated like tourists. Other than a new name for the Triboro bridge, and the bizarre spectacle of moving trucks leaving Manhattan with corporate furniture by the fleet, everything in New York looked very familiar. Our friends were all available to see us. They assured us that we had not been forgotten. Our children are still fond of each other. One of them still refers to our new home as “Misconsin,” and I find that comforting.
Our favorite haunts haven’t changed either. At Balthazar on Friday for lunch, I found myself again amidst crowds of beautiful, well-dressed people who have no apparent need to be at any kind of day job. I celebrated a friend’s birthday for close to three hours. We drank champagne. The birthday girl toasted her inner circle. After the toast, my mind wandered back to another lunch she and I had there, celebrating a different milestone. There we all were, I thought happily to myself -- my old and dear friend, the beautiful jobless people, and me. Just like old times.
We arrived home after the weekend to find that our car battery was dead, and it had snowed the day before. Packing for the trip had been tricky. But unpacking was like a bad hangover. For several nights afterward, I sat on the couch flipping channels like a sullen teenager, trying to talk myself out of alternating feelings of boredom, anger, and buyer’s remorse.
I'm sure we’ll make good memories here. I know we’ll meet more people, and they will eventually come to think of us as good friends. The weather will get warm soon. We will rediscover the joy of having a backyard. The crocuses I planted last fall are already starting to bloom. And I love looking out my window at them, despite the fact that every time I do, they make me think of New York.