New York is a BIG city. And CROWDED. It is possible to feel very lonely wondering its streets. Being by myself in galleries and theatre lobbies, peering into expensive shops and crowded cafes, I felt rather disembodied at times. There are so many places where one feels one is not invited. I often found myself missing The Daughter who is my usual travelling companion
It wasn't until my third day in NYC, on my visit to the East Village, that the tight spring in me started to unwind. I loved the aesthetic of the streets with their criss-crossing fire escapes and random community art gardens. There's more sky. I ate a leisurely lunch at the pretty Moroccan cafe that is a stop on the poetry walk, lingering over my glass of wine while writing in my journal. The food was delicious, the staff friendly and casual. I finally felt like I was on vacation.
I didn't get a photo of Tompkins Square Park. I forgot to take out my camera. About halfway through the walking tour, one slowly crosses the park, east to west, while listening to a John Ashbery poem appropriately titled, Just Walking Around. I admit I hadn't heard of Ashbery before. My knowledge of American writers in general is quite poor. (In Ontario high schools during the seventies, we were raised on Margaret Lawrence, Shakespeare, and Who Has Seen The Wind.). Just Walking Around is a trickster of a piece, beautifully read by the poet himself, and it grabbed me fully;
"...It gets to be kind of lonely
But at the same time off-putting,
Counterproductive, as you realize once again
That the longest way is the most efficient way..."
Listen to and read the poem here.
In the center of the park, between playgrounds and benches, is a large, circular off-leash area surrounded by a nice wrought iron fence. Leaning on the fence, listening to the poem for the second time, I paused to watch the dogs play for a while. A big, beautiful hound, tail wagging, all ears and legs, galloped up to me, put his big paws up the fence and presented that doggie face that says 'I love only you.' I rubbed his ears cooing and laughing, knowing in my heart that, for that moment, I was completely happy.