This is part of a series. You can read other contributions, here, here, here and here. If I've failed to link to other entries, please let me know. (Thanks to Tony for giving me two more links; are we still missing people?)
I had experienced a couple of premonitory dreams that Summer and Autumn, so I was perhaps more receptive to mystical ideas than usual. Meeting this guy had a sense of pattern to it, or at least it did for my pattern-seeking brain at the time. I didn't think I'd go though. I hadn't been planning to go back to school, I certainly didn't want to go in New York City, and if I did go, wouldn't I want to go whole hog and get an MFA? This didn't seem like a good fit.
So, off we go then. In two weeks I had given away or packed up seven years' worth of stuff, and left the town for good. I spent the holidays in Indiana, then flew into Newark Airport. A few hours later the blizzard of '96 hit. The city was paralyzed for over a week.
This was a blessing for me in ways I would have never predicted. For one thing, it meant that no one thought it odd that I didn't venture out much my first few days. If my hosts were aware that I spent much of my time huddled in their guest room in the fetal position, sucking my thumb, they were kind enough not to mention it. Because I was freaking out just a wee bit. Even with the ready-made structure of school, I still had some daunting tasks ahead of me, like finding a place to live. I knew the reputation. I'd heard the stories. Even the idea of a broker took some getting used to. I needed to pay someone to help me look for places? Pay them a month's rent? During that first snow-bound week, when none of the brokers offices were open anyway, I at least made peace with the concept. The snow gave me another gift. The first time I ventured into Manhattan, it still blanketed everything. I was one of only a handful of people climbing over the drifts. Traffic was nil so most of us walked in the streets, rather than the unshoveled sidewalks. The entire island was deserted, beautiful, and quiet.
I think my twenty-nine year old self was better equipped for the bustling metropolis than my twenty-one year old self had been, but it was still nice to have those first few days to explore the place in peace. I still love New York City best when it's covered in snow.
*All the photos were taken near my apartment in Harlem.