The air feels chilly, but only because my jacket is light. “It’s not such a gloomy day,” I declare to no one in particular. I was happy for the rain, content with its embracing cloak of anonymity, so I started my day in the park and now I’m ending it there, as well. Most people are seeking refuge elsewhere, so Central Park feels all mine while I take shelter in the dawning signs of spring, in the blooming of the daffodils and crocuses.
Meandering more slowly than usual, I stop often and admire the pockets of yellow and purple blossoms that brighten the overcast landscape. I feel submerged, breathing in the unfolding green, as if my past sadnesses are being cleansed by cool streams of raindrops and verdancy. There is no real destination, save for heading north towards Harlem and home. I surrender to random pathways, letting them lead me around muddy puddles and under overhanging trees. I walk for more than an hour, emptying my mind of the workday, until the grey sky darkens even more and evening approaches. I turn up the lane by Strawberry Fields and head towards the exit.
Around the bend by the famous mosaic a handsome, evocative man sits on the unusually empty benches. We smile at each other, hesitate, and then smile again. Without stopping, I emerge from the canopied walkway, near the Dakota, and then fully sense this stranger behind me. As I turn, our eyes meet. For a moment, we both fumble for a starting point. He comments on the drizzly day and subtly refers to the famous man who used to live near here by nodding in the corner building’s direction.
“I lived in Liverpool almost twenty years ago,” he says, telltale accent as evidence.
“Oh?” I say, nervously. “I’ve never been to England, but I’ve always wanted to visit.”
“I miss it sometimes, but haven’t been back in years,” he replies.
Lulled by his voice, my mind slips into a daydream…
In harmony together we would amble under the trellis and curve down along the footpath. We would stroll, without really talking too much. Absent would be the rush to tell our stories and satiate our early curiosity with a barrage of questions. Instead there would be inhalation and calm as we would walk slowly, allowing the ease of spontaneity’s spark. A relationship of movement right from the start. Suddenly I feel I could fall right into him, immerse myself in his body, as if he were a pool of water. I begin to notice details: his very white, very straight teeth, thick, black-rimmed glasses that don’t obscure eyes so dark they’re endless. His well-worn cap suits his confident stance. This is a man with whom to walk through life.
I am awakened from my reverie by that voice.
“Would you like to stroll for a bit?” he asks, gesturing towards the trellis.
It could be such a romantic story: meeting by our imagination, by the sheer full moon I know is behind the clouds. But despite the richness of the daydream, it is not to be. I am still not yet ready. Between the tree leaves, the darkness of night is settling in. With my lips pressed together, I tilt my head for a moment, and silently decline.
“Until next time, then?” he says, smiling softly.
“Yes,” I reply, with a soft residue of regret. Damp, I turn away, and step down into the crosswalk.