In an Honors Program course in college we studied New York City. Everything about it. It was probably my favorite class ever.
As an end to the class we all visited New York City and stayed in a lovely old apartment building from the early 1900’s or so on Park Avenue. It felt haunted but only in a way that was actually quite comforting. The room I slept in smelled a little like vintage Je Reviens.
I become speechless when I recall everything we did while we were there as it was all so thought-provoking and emotionally stirring I’m still processing it all. All the plays. The restaurants. The art. The history.
I loved it.
Of course that wasn’t my only visit to the city but it was the most memorable. By far.
When it was time to leave we walked, as a class, toward the subway to go to the airport and I remember thinking, “I’ll go down those stairs to the subway, get on that train and then all of this will disappear.” It was nice to think of wide open spaces returning to view and yet it was also deeply unnerving. I felt like I was leaving someone behind.
Today, as I was recalling this visit as it was around this time of the year, I vaguely remembered an image that flew into my mind as we left. I’ve loved history since childhood so, at the time, I assumed it was just my imagination going wild with things I’d read or seen somewhere. But I saw an image of a young man around my age who seemed like a real person, maybe a few years older, and just today I remember the way he looked and the feeling I had that he would have wanted to take me sight-seeing around the city for much longer. It felt that if he existed that he wouldn’t have wanted me to leave… Not just yet.
Glasses and a well-fitting khaki trench coat. Intelligent. Elegant. And no, I’m not just describing a handsome man. Ha! It felt like he was from the early half of the 20th Century. Artistic but logical… Emotional. Serious. Clean-shaven.
I felt pulled at… But we were all leaving. I didn’t have a real choice to stay.
It was romantic, it was bizarre and it seemed quite otherworldly. It felt as if my heart was being torn at by leaving. As if I belonged there with him whoever he was. Almost like a permanent girlfriend for eternity. Taking in shows. Having fun. He was angry I was leaving.
I thought it was my imagination.
I find the odd, unsettling memory lovely today and I hope, if he was a ghost stuck in some purgatorial state that he’s not terribly lonely. Perhaps long into the future I can return to a city that I hope still exists… It’s changed so much already. But it always changes… So there’s hope? And we can finally go see whatever it was he wanted to show me.