I took this photo leaning against the tiled wall of Penn Station, sitting on the speckled linoleum alongside hundreds of New Yorkers waiting for the track number of our train to Jersey to pop up on the screens.
It was 80 degrees at 10 at night and every inch of my skin was dewy from the intermittent rain alternating with humidity so heavy all I could do was let it press against me as I sank to the ground, unbearably happy to be among the 8.4 million who love this city so much we'll stay in heat, in cold, in blizzard and hail.
The next night the temperature dropped 25 degrees and coastal wind kicked up. Hurricane Joaquin prepared to visit too. My oldest friend from college and my protege met me in the East Village for midnight yakitori on a work night. New York.
At 2 a.m. we shoved our hands in our pockets and walked back. Around us New Yorkers bent their heads into the wind and did the turbo walk we're famous for. I waved to my Harvard hubby as he turned toward Alphabet City and I continued north.
My light Uniqlo down jacket did little against the sea winds but I still had to find a bodega to buy water for the night. I shivered and swore and stamped my feet on the pavement and felt in that moment my life was perfect.
"How will you handle winter?" my mentee asked.
I'd just said what I say every year when I visit: "I want to come back."
"You'll be fine," Lee-Sean said. "I just wear snow pants over my outfit and take them off when I get to where I'm going," We joked we'd start a new fashion trend.
Inside my heart swelled. My friends wanted me back in the city and, because they're New Yorkers, had infinite solutions to my problems.
The last 24 hours in the city I, the snowbird, never took my purple puffy off. I barely noticed.
I noticed the gaggle of brash businessmen in the cafe during my last meal, boasting loudly in Tri-State accents.
I noticed the way everyone I met remembered my name.
I noticed the way my East Coast friends had the ability to make me feel utterly capable of anything while rallying around to support me, walk me to the train station, look me in the eye, share a meal with me at any time, and extend their resources to me with a generosity that brings me to tears every time.
And I knew I could do it. I could come back to the city, to winter.
Back to the people who are family.
Is it time to go home?
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