June 16, 2011
Our trip encompassed both stretches of silent road, straight and winding, through green hills, mountains, and water, as well as the rush of traffic, crush of people, and their colorful lives in New York City.
While the City felt like something I should want to see and do, the wooded Catskills and busy streams felt like being immersed in something that is completely me and yet also more than myself.
The trip to and through the city wrapped me tightly in binding ropes of anxiety disguised as interesting stimuli, from tall, milky-glassed buildings to flamboyantly gay and abundant men dressed in platform heels and short shorts, their legs muscled and pale. The city offered lovely expanses of bridges, trussed and suspended high above murky but beautiful rivers.
We stayed close together, navigating garbage-smells and busy intersections, distracted by so many people who claim that place as their own. Many stood out, but not one looked out of place. People who would blend in at home, and those who would be run out of town should they parade their costumes in West Michigan. Preppy couples in stiff, expensive clothing, and hand-holding men in make up. The white, Cadillac, SUV with the poodle hanging out the side window, and the business-types with their suits and phones. I could have stared all day.
The wall-to-wall shops and restaurants gave way occasionally to bowers of greenery, small escapes from the close air and the heat. Private gardens squeezed in between, above, and below. Millions are spent to live in tight quarters in the right location. People and their dogs are sardines living in relative harmony with blaring horns, voices, artificial scents, and concrete. Shops somehow make a living and we ducked into several to find everything from crass to class.
I am sure my brain expands with each new experience, and the City is endless; I could watch or wander it for years and never lose interest. Curiosity isn’t lacking. Beauty is abundant. Culture and history weave their way through the one way streets, small parks, and soaring buildings. I could spend every cent I’ve ever made and find anything I’ve ever desired to buy. And oh! The people I could meet and stories they could tell!
Despite all that the City has to offer, I choose the woods and fields, the rivers and lakes, the silent roads and the absence of humanity. This is where I can breathe again, and the tightly wrapped anxieties let go of me. I can think more freely and ponder life, using words that just won’t come to me on the sidewalks of Manhattan. Everything inside of me has more space to Be and I don’t feel obliged to Do. All of my senses are engaged and calmed at once by the reaching tree limbs, clear water, climbing boulders, and scurrying but silent creatures. I want to explore the curving, rock walls through the woods and hear only the calls of birds above my head where the vultures circle.
We followed empty roads to busy highways to come home to the buttery yellow and green-gold fields where sandhill cranes warble their hellos to us. We came home to the white pines and our own gardens where I can stretch myself out and breathe freely. The City will always be there, building itself higher and deeper, calling millions to its temptations and opportunities. But I am not one of those millions. I choose earth, however long it may survive humanity.