There are certain places that draw you. It could be the diner where you fell in love or the beach where you said good-bye; the house where you grew up or the park where you sat, journal in hand, sorting through yourself and your place in the world.
These places represent tiny shards of memory, or experience, that lodge themselves inside you. They get internalized, and through that process, become resonant, like tiny bells only you can hear. The associations with that place might be happy, sad or complicated, but they become a part of you, and they tend to draw you back.
I just got back from a whirlwind trip to New York. It’s a special city for me, one I lived in, briefly, as a much younger person, but it made an indelible mark. There are a lot of places that resonate with me in New York, like Washington Square Park. In my mind’s eye, it will always be black and white – wrought iron covered in pristine snow, lit by a gray, January dawn. There’s the coffee house on Avenue A where my friends and I trekked to get tea and chat when we should have been studying. There’s the blues bar on Second Ave., where I ordered my first gin and tonic, and the pizza place on Spring that still makes the best pizza I’ve ever had.
There are a lot of little places like that for me in New York, but the biggest one, the one that is lodged most deeply inside me, is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was eighteen the first time I walked up the wide front steps. Even then, I knew that the massive museum was going to be a special place. I’ve been back countless times since – most recently two days ago, when I wandered around with a good friend – and still, there was that same familiar feeling. It still felt like my place.
There was a period during my freshman year at NYU that I went to the Met once a week. I should have been studying or rehearsing, but I needed to think. I was foggy about everything, from what I wanted and needed to who the hell I was. The only place I could think was in the Met, with it’s hushed galleries and wooden floors that creak and stretch forever. Over fifteen years later, I’m still drawn it, even though I know exactly who I am now. Every trip to NY means a trip to the Met.
I’ve changed, but it hasn’t. And yet, there’s always room for me in it. It’s a comforting, comfortable place. Walking through the front doors feels like slipping my hand into a well-worn pocket. It’s just one of those places for me. It just keeps drawing me back.
4 thoughts on “The Places That Draw You”
I love New York City, and it strikes me as a place so full of those memory pockets. Maybe that’s just me because it was my stomping ground as I got older and learned how to take Metro North in from the suburbs. One of my most exciting/tumultuous relationships played out across SoHo. I think it’s interesting that even though I’ve moved to the Bay Area, most of my fiction still takes place in Manhattan.
Also I’ve clearly fallen down the hole to Wonderland—I’ve been reading your old posts for the last half hour. Forgive the belated commenting!
Oh my gosh, I still get homesick for New York and I only lived there for two years. That quick trip back was so great.. And SoHo is an incredible backdrop for a tumultuous relationship. Have you ever read the novel Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler? I read it in one night and now I tend to read the odd chapter when airfare to JFK is depressingly high.
As for falling down the hole into Wonderland? That’s a huge compliment and I love your commenting – no such thing as belated!
I haven’t! I’ll be sure to look that up (when I finally run out of Cleis books). My biggest thing about Manhattan are the rooftops. I could write an entire short story about rooftops. As a matter of fact, I should just do that.
Yes, yes, yes!