In the city, nature has to be contained in a pot, a plot, upon a rooftop, a park, or in a conservatory. I started this month at The Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I had been in the city for some time, and in stepping into the garden everything was turned inside out, or right side up, again, for me. Suddenly woods where there’d been blocks of brownstones. Fields in lieu of pavement.
Oh right, I thought, I’m a country girl now living on bucolic San Juan Island, Washington with the birds and the foxes and the deer, where the trees meet the sea, and the air is so fresh it’s delicious — for I’d become acclimated to the city and was finding beauty there in displays in store windows, in handsome pairs of planters at doorsteps, in art hanging high through living room windows of illuminated brownstones, and all the gathering places: corner cafes and restaurants.
Not long afterward my Brooklyn daughter attended a conference in Laguna Beach, California. Gazing at the Pacific out the window of her train running up the coast from San Diego, she asked of the universe, “Remind me why I live on the East Coast.”
I can only tell my daughter that I go through this question all the time, coast to coast. This wanting to split myself in two — at least two — and live another life as well, somewhere else. The feeling that I belong there too, and that a ghost of me may indeed be living that life and I need only catch up with her. Hop into her shoes. Hop into her flat in Brooklyn. Hop into her little casita in California. All the places where ghosts of me dwell, walking with no footprints and sighing without sound.
San Juan Island