Maybe what wanderlust really means is this; restlessness till you find home, restlessness till old love loves you anew, sleeplessness till you can sleep sweetly, sadness till happiness returns…always seeking.
“I sought the Lord and he heard me and delivered me from all of my fears.” Psalm 34
This one is for you, Brooklyn…
PS: There is an actual Wells Street in NYC by the way. I looked it up when the story was done. What can i say? I am a genius.
I tried to keep her from leaving Number 12, Wells Street.
I said the right things; I told her just how much her being there made it home and how it just wouldn’t feel right if she left .
I held her in the right places; in the cloak closet while she searched for an old blue scarf, in the bathroom as she stood, lathering lotion on her coal dark skin, on the tiny balcony overlooking the park as we watched children play.
I loved her in the right ways too; on the mahogany dining table I had salvaged from the Salvation Army store two blocks away, on the Persian rug she had bought on her travel to Morocco, on green silk sheets I picked out while thinking of her. Green because she was the only earth I wanted to plant in, the only heart I wanted to beat in time with mine.
Alas, you can only lead a horse to the river; finally, I gave up and one night as she packed, I implored her to take me along.
She turned from her half full duffel bag and looked at me with light brown eyes that have left me undone since the first time we met at the book shop on the corner of 53rd.
‘You don’t want to go Sanmi. You are just saying that because. And as incredible and amazing as that option sounds, I know how miserable you would be if you came with me to India.’ She answered calmly. There was a cloud of sadness to the smile that accompanied her words and I was immediately sorry to have made a hard thing harder.
She was right too. My place is here, in Brooklyn, where I have running water in my apartment and where there is a Whole Foods 10 minutes away. I who could barely survive the morning without a cafe mocha from the Starbucks down the street would not make it in India.
Her place is among the world’s lost. She is a nomad, a wanderer, a seeker. Magic happens when we can all find our places at the feast table that is life.
The day finally came and she called for a cab early, pacing around my tiny kitchen as I tried to rearrange in my mind the puzzle that is my life without the pieces she brings to it.
‘Can I get a pickup to JFK for 7pm? She asked the taxi company over the phone.
‘And what is your address?’ They must have asked.
’Number 12, Wells Street, Brooklyn,’ She replied, the excitement of being on the road once again enunciating every syllable she spoke.
I prayed that the cab would not show up so I could keep her at Number 12 for another day but show up it did. The mystery of the NYC taxi; never there when you need it and right on time when you don’t.
I heave her luggage into the waiting yellow and black cab now. There is nothing more to say but that has never stood in my way before and it won’t now.
I take her warm hand in mine just before she gets into the car and place my forehead against hers. She smells of soap, Guerlain’s Insolence and wanderlust. All around us, leaves are turning the color of autumn. I close my eyes and wonder if winter suits her as well as summer does. I wonder if I will ever get to find out. I want to ask her to stay for every season but I have asked nothing else this past month and I reckon she must be bored of the word ‘stay’ by now.
‘‘Remember us Motunrayo. Remember Number 12 Wells Street when the wanderlust ebbs, remember us when your feet are swollen and tired and you need to put them up. When the road no longer feels like home and you need somewhere to lay your head, remember. Remember the green silk sheets and everything else and come back to me,’ I say with no words.
She closes her eyes, listening to words I don’t say out loud. I don’t know how long we stay that way but it isn’t long enough.
We can feel the driver’s impatience so I pull away reluctantly and open the taxi door so she can get in.
We don’t say goodbye. We never do.
I stay on the curb and watch as the taxi pulls away. She waves and I keep waving till she is out of sight. It is still September when I am ready to go back upstairs but winter has never felt nearer.
I ignore the elevators and take the stairs, two at a time, just like she would have done, to the apartment that has housed our love these past four months. Last year, she stayed three months. The year before that, it was just one month. Who knows; maybe next year she will stay forever and then someday our children will join Mrs Sullivan’s from down the street in their play.
I am in love with a nomad, a wanderer, a seeker. What she seeks, I do not know. But even nomads dig wells and settle down some time.
She will be back around this way again, my Motunrayo. Like her name, she will come around again, looking for joy. My place is here, at Number 12, Wells Street, waiting.
Photo Credit – Simi Vijay Photography
Song of the day: Maroon 5 – Harder To Breathe