I find that my beloved Brooklynite's small son's locutions are running through my head like a soundtrack tonight. It's strange, as it is always strange, to have returned from a journey to which I so looked forward for so long and to realize that it's now over, and that everyone where I just was is now carrying on daily (and nightly) life as usual, just as I'll be doing tomorrow, once the fatigue of the journey and of my Columbus-area errands wears off. Tomorrow brings us our first doings as faculty members for the year; I have syllabi to work and rework; there's all this unpacking to be done. It already feels surreal to think that this time yesterday I was preparing to lay myself down in a fifth-story bedroom in Brooklyn, and that fifteen hours ago, a small boy was ushering me to consciousness by crooning "A bus!" "Oooh no!" (while reading one of his favorite books) "The train?" and any of a number more things that he loves to sing out in his inimitable way. He is the best alarm clock. When the iPod wakes me up tomorrow morning, I will wish I were rolling over to find a two-year-old (blurred by my myopia) standing beside my bed, possibly asking, "The cube?" (his favorite object in the world being a musical cube), in the moments before his parents catch him back from the guest room door and return him to his morning play in the happy living room.
Leaving New York City always saddens me a bit. I don't know whether I could ever live in the city, but I do know that some of my dearest people and places are there, and when I miss them (which is always), I miss their city, too. And when I return to their city, I love it because it is returning me to them.
I told my friend last night, as we headed into the restaurant for dinner, that the thing that always makes me panic in Manhattan (less so in Brooklyn) is the feeling that something extraordinary, something utterly life-changing, is happening one block over from where I am, but I'm never quite sure which way to go in order to find and join it. She kindly and (as is her wont) sagely enumerated for me the range of terrific things to which I gravitated during my week of urban play. It's true. It's also true that I always expect an unrealistic amount from the city when I'm there--not least, I think, so that I can feel truly, deeply grateful to find myself speeding down a rural highway upon my return, greeting the barns and the slow cows and the cornfields topped with tassels of dustiest gold. Now I miss my friends. But I am back with my landscape.