One of my favorite things about the Brooklyn Heights apartment where I’ve been staying is that from here I can hear the horns of the ferries and boats pulling into the East River. When I walk down the street to my place, I can see the water in front of me. It’s the only time I see the water in New York, odd as it may seem given the fact that Manhattan is… an island.
The books I’ve been reading lately are: Peter Pan; The Perfect Storm; and A Voyage for Madmen.
I have a playlist which includes the following: The Downeaster Alexa; Into the Mystic; my friend Claire’s song, Visit Me; Take Me to the Water by Nina Simone…
Each day when I dress, I look at the contents of my suitcase and my backpack and am reminded of the fact that I still live like I would on a boat. When I leave the apartment, I often look like I’m just off a boat: my rubber boots the best protection against the snowdrifts and the slush; my west marine jacket the best protection against the wind; my fuzzy fleece my best weapon against the cold.
I have no curling iron and minimal make-up in my possession. No dresses (not that I would wear one given the cold) and no high-heeled shoes.
In a sense, I have never been far from the sea in my mind, possibly in part because I haven’t given myself much of a chance to become grounded.
Reading the stories of the men in Voyage for Madmen, who set off hell-bent on non-stop circumnavigation, there is something recognizable about the mentality – the restlessness, the desire for an odyssey… and among some of them, an inexplicable desire to be surrounded by water.
As I take my leave of yet another place, I am filled with a contrast of emotions – the desire to stay, or simply stay put, conflicting with the call of the sea.
I pluck a grey hair from my head and consider my situation. I’m not getting any younger. I think of the Yeats’ poem, Sailing to Byzantium. What am I looking for this time? Will I find it? Or at least will I find that sense of peace that I found before?
I can only hope.