Neither Here... Nor There...
It's raining in Sydney today and the last time you felt rain like this, cold like this, you were in New York City. It was minus 7 degree...
It's raining in Sydney today and the last time you felt rain like this, cold like this, you were in New York City. It was minus 7 degree Celsius you had just turned 21 and all you could think when you stepped off that plane was this is freezing. Stalactites clinging to lobes, ice wrapped around spines. This is frost on tongues and between toes. This is something else. No number of layers of wool, down, fleece and fur could stop the blizzard from shutting down your immune system and the city.
You might have loved it best when you were floating above JFK, looking out those tiny windows into a huge, famous city you hadn't met yet. You'd heard the storm warning you knew the locals were hibernating and supermarkets were selling out, but the blizzard still seemed like a mere idea, you didn't have to face it as long as that small metal bird protect you.
You had arrived yet you were still wrapped in the snugness of transit, of being neither here nor there. You could catch a glimpses of the city through the flurry, the street, the ground, the airport. The plane just had to find the runway. You couldn't remember a time when the baby wasn't a few rows in front wasn't crying. You could hardly remember a time before being in the air. You hovered a little longer.
It's raining in Sydney today and your feelings are thin. They drape gently around your shoulders but pull too tightly across your thighs. They're not quite warm enough. You remember those first few weeks after coming back, waking up in the middle of the night, homesick in your own bed. That feeling was heavier than jet lag, heavier than your suitcase. You think of Strawberry Fields. You had Googled the easiest way to get to Upper West Side, got off one stop too far. You hadn't worked out the subway yet and walked circles Central Park for hours. The trail to Lennon Memorial had been buried in snow and you couldn't find it.
A man with a beautiful dog saw you wandering aimlessly, twisting the map this way and that. He stopped, introduced his dog and you asked how her little paws coped in the snow. The walked with you to the plaque where signs asked visitors to be quiet, before heading home. You stayed at the memorial for almost two hours listening to buskers play Beatles's songs for coins, watching a homeless woman restlessly try to sleep on a bench, her cardboard asking for change. All the while, you missed home so hard you could fell it in the ache of your bones, those ivory Leo pieces that break too easily but keep us together. A winter's Central Park was darkening and your eyes were straining, so you sat on the closest bench for a moment and thought: I'm here. I am here.
It's raining in Sydney today and you feel soggy. Your heavy limbs and damp clothes and drips, so many drips like that dirty, American coffee. You don't miss the coffee. Despite being wetter and colder and more wrapped up and weighed down in New York than you are now, you felt lighter there. No number of layers could stop the way the snow coated your eyelashes, hair, lips, as you walked down Fifth Avenue. The bold burrowed itself through your muscles and into your bones, but you found warmth. You found warmth in the way your white teeth chattered and knees knocked. You found warmth in the ways New York made promises to stay with you forever. A snippet of an Australian accent in the middle of Time Square. Catching sight of Liberty for the first time on the Staten Island Ferry. Rifling through racks in Saks and knowing you couldn't afford a single thing. It was almost like being home.
It's raining in Sydney today. You're home, but all you can think of is where you aren't. Not in New York, in a plane, in Central Park, in a Midtown diner or a Downtown bar. You're cold. The train slows, and another station slides in to meet you. As you step off onto the platform, you realize the rain has stopped and you wonder what the weather is like in Manhattan right now. You hope it's stayed warm.
Sydney, 31 July 2017
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