A Hope Chest of Light Keeping

The West Village

Off the grid. Made of winding old pathways with cobblestone and brick buildings hugging close together, telling secrets. The flower boxes, bright red and hot pink, are saturated in the setting sun. Out of every corner bar, with a name gold-leafed on the dark windows; comes the aroma of wine, wood floors and whiskey.

I walk behind beautiful women, smelling of herbs and gardens. Honeysuckle, roses, paper-whites; a heady aroma made more potent in the heat sliding behind the buildings. I could be any one of these delicate and tempered hot-house ladies. They have more grit in their pinkie fingers than most will ever need. I know because I was one of them, for a moment, for a wink of time. They march onward, this strange army of savage femininity, across the concrete in their high-heels and I took off my shoes to run towards the grass.

A dog, a buckle of laughter, a trickle of twinkle lights on the block next. English ivy, thick and dense and worthy of any cottage on any lane somewhere, anywhere. Spin around once and this could be France. England. Italy or Spain. Hop over the just fallen leaves; autumn is on the way no matter how sticky the sidewalk is.

I haven’t been here since I walked here with you. And with you. And for once, I did not feel either of your ghosts in the same way. There were memories, yes, but they were mine. Places I walked, tea I bought, my scarf thrown over my shoulder, talking to Jay-Ben on the phone and my laughter echoing up the corridor of brick. I sat in a cafe once and ordered a tea, I watched a girl about my age go about writing on her computer and thought about how the curve of her lip was so sweet, it looked like a flower petal. She smiled a little when she typed. I imagine she was writing a letter, with her feet tucked up under her and her shoe laces sticking out.

Then there was the time, right after a job interview, I sat with a young lady fresh out of college, and she told me she was scared to get a job in the city because she “didn’t want to grow up.” I reminded her that it was okay to be afraid. I reminded her everything is scary until it isn’t. At the time, I am not sure I truly knew what fear was in the way I know it now.

To me, she always felt like some sort of sign, but I couldn’t tell-then or now-what she was a sign for.

I wonder if I would tell her anything differently now that I know what I know.

I don’t think I would.

And all of us
(all of us)
Find our way home.
Sometimes with another sometimes all alone

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