Officially, I came to New York to work on my writing and see my friend Paige who was in town for the weekend. But unofficially, I came for some breathing space. I came to get out away from the daily grind of working and parenting. I came to get a bit of time to feel more like my old self.
New York did not disappoint. As I walked away from Penn Station, I smiled at the hoards of people crossing the street, selling cheap jewelry, begging for money and making business deals. New York is so alive.
Paige and I ate great food and walked everywhere and stayed out late. But mostly, we just enjoyed being together and talking about the small dramas as well as the big questions in life.
“I’m honestly not sure I’ll get remarried,” I told her as we walked along the street one night after dinner.
“I think you will,” she said.
“Maybe,” I said, “or maybe not. But I spent much of the past year hoping that I would. I wanted what Shawn and I had. I wanted that kind of love again. But how useful was all that longing, anyway? I haven’t been able to find anything even remotely close to love.”
She noted that I haven’t been single for very long, and I conceded that.
“I just don’t want to spend all of my life wishing for something that may never happen,” I said.
That night, I dreamed about Shawn. It had been a while since that last happened. In the dream, Shawn and I weren’t yet dating. We were hiking somewhere with our friends, and we paused at a lookout. Shawn took a photo and we all adjusted our hiking gear before setting out again. As we walked, I realized that we were at Mount Fuji, a real hike that Shawn and I had done together.
In real life, the hike had been really hard. I vomited at the top of the mountain from altitude sickness, and my calves seized up as we descended. At one point, I fell to the ground, screaming in pain from my aching calves, and Shawn rushed to my side. He took my leg in his arms and massaged it vigorously. Eventually, the pain subsided, and I looked up at him. “Thanks,” I said, meeting his eyes.
Time froze, for both of us. The air seemed to feel different, and we held each other’s gaze for a long time. Years later, he would recount this moment as the one when he knew there was something between us. I felt it too.
I woke from the dream in the early morning darkness, the time so early that the sun hadn’t yet illuminated even a bit of the sky. I stared at the ceiling, thinking of the dream, and the hike we’d taken almost two decades ago.
My mind went to that moment – the one when Shawn and I locked eyes and we both felt as though the air buzzed around us. It wasn’t love, not yet. But it was a spark.
The last night we were in New York, Paige and I walked home from dinner. She had promised to pick up something from a store for a friend and it was closing shortly; we were rushing to get there. I had on high heels, so I told her to run ahead, and I’d meet her there. She complied and picked up the pace while I slowed down, taking in the city.
People were everywhere. Some jaywalked and others stood in little groups, trying to pick the next place to go. I stopped to ask directions, and a man with heavily accented English smiled at me and told me where to go. He was cute, I thought, as he walked the other direction.
I kept walking. New York hummed with life, and I marveled at it. Here I was, alone in this big city, but I didn’t feel alone.
I thought about the dream, and I thought about Mount Fuji. I missed Shawn so desperately as I awoke from that dream, but this time, I wasn’t missing the years of intense love and the way that he looked at me as I held our infant children. No, here in New York, I realized I was missing the early days.
I was missing feeling the air buzz.
Maybe, I thought, it’s time to stop looking for love. Maybe it will come when I least expect it, or maybe it will never come. Maybe I’ve had my one great love.
But there is vibrancy still in this life. I could feel it in the air in New York.
I may never get remarried, and I think I’m starting to find peace with that idea. But I’m not giving up on the idea that someday I may find a real spark with another man. I’m not giving up on the idea that I may be going about my daily life, drinking coffee or catching the metro or finishing a hike, and I may look up from that everyday moment and feel something new.
And the air will buzz again.