February 26, 2005
Friday: One automobile, two planes, one bus, and one subway ride later I was in Central Park, walking through The Gates. I loved all of it - the saffron, the play of light and texture, the ruffles and ripples as the wind caught the fabric. The reflections on the water. The changes in topography and how the gates widened or narrowed depending on the path. Sometimes I saw the larger scale - gates gates and more gates. Sometimes it was just one gate, and I would look at the cloth rippling and rustling against the blue of the sky and the dark outlines of branches.
Walking through the park in this context, the experience was more like a journey, maybe even pilgrimage. I found myself really living in the moment, taking time to slow down, to look up, to pause, to think. Some moments were breathtaking, others were more prosaic. Sometimes I watched as people experienced the Gates, talking and taking pictures. One interesting comment I overheard: Wouldn't it be great if they could somehow gift-wrap the entire park?
Other moments were harder. I wasn't supposed to be here, after all. Waves of saffron seemed to blur and swim together, mixing with everything else around me as my thoughts turned inward. Then I'd remember to breathe, and the world began to look normal again.
Eventually I headed down to the Overlook, for my relatively last-minute decision to hang out with New York bloggers/friends. Mike probably would have disliked being the focus of attention. It's ironic that the bar of choice wouldn't have been accessible to him, there being a step up into the bar, and a step up in the back by the pool table, where we ended up congregating.
At first we seemed to be scattered. Thank goodness for cell phones, so I could tell Steph and Jonathan where to find me. Daniella and John showed up, and by then we'd run into Christine and Keith, Steve Silver and his girlfriend, as well as Matthew, who also flew in to be amongst those of us who knew his brother. Daniella supplied name tags, so when I next went up to the bar for a refill, the bartender read my tag and presented my drink with a flourish to "milady" - and a very nice man wouldn't let me pay for it, especially once he learned why we bloggers had gotten together.
I made the effort to mingle. So I chatted with Kambri and Brian the 646 Guy, and met Laren, who writes food entries over at Gothamist and has her own site as well. She's a big fan of Elvis Costello; Mike would have liked meeting her. Eventually caught up with Paul Frankenstein, met the wonderful Linus, and wended my way back to Stephanie and Jonathan and John and Daniella (who has a more coherent writeup and pictures as well). Somehow I don't look as puffy-eyed and red-nosed and snotty as I thought I would. But mostly I managed to maintain good spirits, better than they have been. It definitely helped to be among mutual friends.
As much as it's great to connect with people through email, through the blog, through the phone - none of these can substitute for being with people, in person, so you can see them and talk to them and hug each other and make each other laugh even though you were feeling awful just a minute before.
Afterwards a few of us cabbed it to downtown for some a late dinner, and then later, having had some lovely dessert wine, I was asleep in the guest room at John and Daniella's, surrounded by sweet, pudgy cats.
Today: More planes, then straight to a casual dinner party with Scott upon arrival. Again, I had to work on being in the moment, on making the effort to talk to people when I felt boring and shy. But the evening turned out okay. The sight of so many toddlers brought by other guests probably exhausted me more than the whirlwind pace of my trip.
Pretty worn out. Eventually the hectic pace will end and I will have to get back to the routine, to the everyday business of living. It's something I look forward to, but I'm also afraid of it. But there's nothing to be done, except to keep going.