Sunday, October 25, 2015
But I'm not there yet. I'm still the woman who arrives mid-afternoon to New York City, checks into a hotel with her husband, and starts to walk. This time to the Columbia University campus, which I had never seen (that old library, now the administration building, soars). To the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Past the fruit vendors on upper Broadway.
Then a subway ride to Columbus Circle and the Museum of Arts and Design (where an exquisite Wendell Castle show is in place). Then a walk-run (to the extent possible) through Times Square, and then more underground tunnels to the World Trade Center, where we were stopped by the power of those two pools, the remembered names, the roses and calla lilies left in respect and honor. Art can speak, and this art does—the down and the down of the water, the sound of that water, the return of the water, and the light behind the names.
It was the hour of the gloaming. The stone buildings burned red-orange inside the blue glass of the new tower, and that big Calatrava bird, soon to be the World Trade Center Transportation Center, was already soaring.
We walked a long length of Greenwich, then, met our son for dinner, watched him take off in an Uber for a date, made our way all the way back to 103rd Street, where all night long we listened to the trash trucks, the buses, the NYC talk just outside our window. I rose in the dark, put on a dress, and as soon as the sun was up I was walking again—finding a French bakery, buying an almond croissant, and working my way toward Central Park, where the early dog walkers were out and about and I could see the river just beyond them.
By 8:15 I was dancing with the extraordinary educator/advocator Susannah Richards in the lobby of Bank Street. Dancing, yes. I swear we danced. (Susannah is especially good at the twirls.) At Bank Street, a remarkable cast of writers, illustrators, educators, librarians, and book people were convening for what, in my book, is the best gathering of storytellers ever anywhere. Here the conversation circles around Thoughts as opposed to Marketing Platforms. The forum encourages conversation, consideration, a maybe this or a maybe that. This is hardly accidental. This reflects the good work of those who assemble this program, moderate the panels, conduct the keynote (thank you, Rita Williams-Garcia), and say yes. I bow down to you, oh Bank Street, with thanks especially to Jennifer Brown and Cynthia Weill, and then to my fellow panelists Daniel Jose Older and Tim Wynne-Jones—the three us led toward greater understanding about narrative risk by the exceptionally thoughtful questions of Vicki Smith of Kirkus Reviews. And with thanks to Chronicle Books, who said yes to the event.
When it was done, when I hugged my old and new friends goodbye, I was running again, to the subway, to the PATH, and toward my husband and son, where we walked some more, had an early dinner, and watched the lights of the World Trade Center blink on.
(Can I just thank here the little boy on the incredibly crowded train who must have read the panic of this claustrophobe on his face and said, "Miss? Do you want my seat?")
We drove home in the dark. I slept. I actually slept. The sleep of a satisfied woman.