The feeling I knew (in theory) to expect flooded over me as I lay in the white bed in the big bedroom in our new apartment last night.
I had wondered why I had not felt worse, packing up the terrace and the Brooklyn apartment. My feeling then, was: I am done. I am ready to go. I had seen this new Harlem place at 2pm, in streaming autumn sunlight. It is one of the three hours of direct and moving sunshine that the southern, terrace side receives. I had not, then, woken in the gloomy mornings - two tall buildings sandwich this townhouse east and west, and, inside, the apartment looks long and dark, even if the sky is crystal blue. I had not heard the creaking footsteps walking back and forth on the next floor overhead, I had not walked like a stranger on streets where I do not fit as easily and naturally as I did the streets of Cobble Hill. I had not realized, then, that my full sun garden-in-pots cannot thrive on this bigger terrace, which dictates a garden designed for shade. I had not wanted to step out onto the new terrace in the morning, wearing nothing but a bathrobe, with a cup of coffee, only to realize that I could not do so without my movements being subject to scrutiny.
I mean, I knew all that in theory. Practise is always something else. And I know that everything will get better. Inch by inch and piece by piece.
But last night I felt lost, homeless, bereft. And when Vince woke in the night with a sharp coughing fit I leaped awake from a dream of swimming easily in deep seas, ready to perform a Heimlich, thinking in the panic of half-sleep, if I lose you now, I have nothing. I have lost the terrace. My sunny morning home. And I am afraid I will lose the desire to write this blog daily. I am rudderless. I have been living with something for many years, and am just now coming to terms with what it meant to me and what it did for me.
This morning, in bed, the Frenchman brought me breakfast on a tray - the banana bread I made last night, and coffee. An old weekend ritual. I had nothing to read, all the books are still packed, so he brought me a copy of my own book, which was at hand. I have not really read it since it was published. I started in January. I ended in April. And it settled me down. I did a good job. I like it. It is the book I wrote for myself. About this city, about the seasons, about that improbable little terrace that helped steer me. I wrote about paying attention to the details.
Now, the details threaten to overwhelm me.
Taken one by one, one bathroom cabinet, one kilim, one chair at a time - perhaps order can be restored. To that end we visited Ikea in New Jersey, Zipcarring out and back in (with guilty bags of frozen Swedish meatballs at our feet) to come to a red-light halt on 125th Street, near the Hudson River Fairway, where first a sprinting young man, and then two sprinting policemen crossed in front of us. I've never seen a New York cop run, before. Didn't know they could. These could. Four more cops joined the chase (tailed by a really fat one, lumbering in the rear), which split in the intersection as another runner dodged across the choked traffic. One running cop now had a drawn weapon. I felt like a coconut at a funfair, and slid down in my seat. One of the kids surrendered and was cuffed without incident, the other was prone, being told shut the eff up, surrounded by uniforms.
We drove by, turned up north, just ahead of The Apollo Theater, east a little, down brownstoned streets where locust trees have turned yellow, past the truck I have noted before, that sells large bunches of good-looking kale and branches of broccoli, then around, and down our tree lined street, and we were home.
It will be home. One day.