Well, I’ve managed to let an entire month of 2015 slip by without posting. In my defense, it was a crazy busy month, with plenty of work deadlines and freelance projects. On top of that, P.’s dad is still staying with us, and it’s been hard to carve out some quiet time to sit down and write. Not that he would mind if I told him I needed to sit in front of the computer for a while; mostly it’s been me feeling like it would not be very nice to cut short our evening conversations, or just being busy with stuff like food shopping and cooking for the family, prepping for my classes, and, just last night, taxes. (We’re getting a refund – yay! The plan is to split it half and half between debt and savings, just as we’ve been doing with my freelance income.)
I was also away for an entire week in January, spending nearly 1/4 of the past month visiting friends and family (one family member, to be precise) in New York City. I lived in NYC for 8 years before moving to Seattle, and went back to visit a couple times, in 2008 and 2009. My 2009 visit was a very quick one, just three days to be able to attend a friend’s wedding, so most of the people I saw on last month’s trip I hadn’t seen for 7 years, and others, for about 5.5 years. Probably the most beautiful part of this trip was how easy it was to reconnect with virtually all of them, just sort of picking up where we’d left off. The conversation flowed easily, and there was little, if any, of that awkwardness that usually ensues when two people who have continued to think of each other as friends but haven’t been a part of each other’s daily lives for years meet face-to-face again.
I had expected to spend a lot of time between get-togethers with friends wandering through the city on my own, visiting familiar places and perhaps discovering new ones, stopping by various cafes and restaurants for a taste of the city’s myriad cuisines. Instead, I lingered on friends’ couches or at their kitchen tables, not wanting to stop talking. I haven’t seen them in years, I realized, and it will likely be years before I see many of them again. Why cut short these good times and trade them for lonely walks down the streets of a city that, without the people I knew, didn’t mean all that much to me? So, there was only evening and one morning that I’d spent by myself – and these were originally supposed to be spent with a friend who was going to fly to NYC to meet me but didn’t make it due to a delay that had caused to her to miss her flight. There was some shopping for books and groceries on those two days, as well as a walk by the Dakota building and the Imagine memorial. There was also a quick visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Cubism and Madame Cezanne exhibits, which involved hiding some of the aforementioned groceries under a bush in Central Park after the security guards at the museum told me the coat check wouldn’t accept food. It was actually pretty nice to spend a number of hours like this, by myself, sort of re-living my college student days, but it was probably just enough.
In addition to savoring the time spent with friends, a feeling (or thought?) that kept recurring while I was in NYC was something like, “It’s good to have a place like this that I can visit once in a while.” And, by “a place like this,” what I suspect I meant was a place where both people dear to me and urban experiences that I enjoy were particularly abundant. While I feel ready to move to a remote and rural place like the Methow, I know that I would need to maintain a connection to the city. Of course, we will visit Seattle several times a year if we end up living in the Methow Valley. However, a week spent in NYC would be like an injection of hyper-concentrated big-city experience, a perfect way to balance out what may, at times, seem like a lonely and isolated kind of life. Especially in the winter, I bet.
February promises to be a bit quieter for me, especially towards the end. I’m looking forward to enjoying two-day weekends again. I’m also looking forward to the beginning of spring. I know, it doesn’t officially start until late March, and spring in Seattle is such a strange season anyway, sometimes barely perceptible because the sky remains mostly gray, even as the temperatures gradually inch upward. Still, what brings me a lot of joy in the spring is watching all the plants come alive again. Already a week or two ago – in January! – there were hyacinth, daffodil and iris leaves pushing themselves out of the ground. Our rose bush is erupting in dozens of new branches that seem to grow a bit longer every day. The days have gotten noticeably longer; as a friend recently pointed out in a celebratory comment on Facebook, there is still light at 5 pm!
I’m not quite ready to let winter go, though. There was so much I wanted to do during this season that I probably won’t get to, now: skiing, snowshoeing, having more friends over for cozy dinners. However, I can probably still find a good enough reason to make a cup of hot chocolate the old-fashioned way, thinning melted chocolate with hot milk…