Today I had lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen for a while, in a neighborhood where I once lived. The neighborhood restaurant, where we met, was one we both knew for its for reliable burgers and salads. But perhaps TV shows like Top Chef have changed the way food is presented, even in a restaurant like that. My friend was concerned her curry chicken salad had been formed in a cat food can. My plate was edged with a balsamic reduction. It went very nicely with my can shaped pile of salmon and avocado. Not that I mind a little presentation, but it did feel odd in that place. Everything, absolutely everything, is different from what it was.
Or maybe we were the problem, wanting things to be the way they used to be, when nothing is. Some things seem to be, on the surface, but even those are distorted by associations and history. Memory turns them into landmarks and monuments, and mausoleums.
We talked about the books we’re writing, about her marriage, her kids, my ex and his new baby, about a friend we once shared, who lives in Florida now. It was most fun when we talked about our writing. Telling her about my story filled me with such excitement. I just started laughing, and she loved the idea, and opened her computer to show me a page she was writing. It was fun to compare notes like that.
So, although, the past is always adding a layer over everything, I’m still very much in the present, and I love these days. I’m in the groove of my new routine. Wake up early, walk Doe, feed the cats, make coffee, sit down to write. My book is sometimes very compelling. I wake up thinking about where I’ve left off. I think about where to go next. Or sometimes, I feel stuck, and do something else instead.
This weekend, I took Doe for two long walks, one in Central Park, and another by Gracie Mansion, along the East River. It was a beautiful weekend for walking in the park. The leaves were falling around me, there were some trees still in full color. Red and orange. Looking at the trees, in their autumnal state, reminded me of parks on Long Island, and my neighborhood as a girl. The familiarity made me smile.
Also, it was nice to see full teams of men and women in trucks with rakes and other tools, all picking up the leaves. I continue to appreciate my freedom from yard work. The garden in Mattituck was very special, but it was a lot of work. Now Central Park is my garden. I don’t have to lift a finger. Doe and I find new paths to take.