The breeze was sharp and crisp as it whipped through the knit of my sweater and tinged my skin with fresh fall air. Lights changed up Sixth Avenue; green to yellow to red and back again until they disappeared in the effervescent glow of Times Square. Tucked safely, almost neatly, under the arm of my Swede, I felt safe. And despite the chill, I felt warm.
His phone rang and his deep, throaty voice undulated and exclaimed in the rhythms of its native tongue. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, letting his body guide me through the streets. Beneath our feet a train rumbled past, across the avenue a couple braved the weather to dine outside, and for the first time in months, I felt home.
During the months he was gone, New York had begun to reveal herself to me, stripping off each fantastical layer one day at a time, until finally the magic was gone. She stood before me, used, broken; many lines crossing her tired face. The lights were blinding. The traffic as dull as it was impenetrable. I had been lied to. The secret was out. There was no intangible something in the air, no electric pulse, no ghosts whispering in the crooked streets of the Battery, no tycoons, no secrets but the secret of shame in the gilded townhouses of the Upper East Side. I was where I should have been, and I was lost.
With this thought I nuzzled deeper under the his arm and listened to the sound of fragile leaves tinkering daintily across the concrete . His chest vibrated as he spoke and I clung to every quiver. As we rounded the block back towards my apartment he finished his conversation and buried his lips in my hair, drawing in a deep breath. As he inhaled, I let my eyes open slowly. What I saw amazed me. New York! New York! How I had missed it! I looked with awe at the street that only weeks ago had been so cold. Just inside the door, my Swede smiled and beckoned me toward him. With the hum of the cabs whirring up Sixth buzzing in my veins and the shadow of the Empire State’s moody colors on my face, I happily obliged. But not before casting one more glance out towards our glittering city. I can say with some certainty, I saw her wink.
He had brought me back New York, and all the way from Sweden.
Listening To: Fake Empire by The National