I took a picture yesterday morning at the Metro North Marble Hill station while we were waiting for a north-bound train to Cold Spring. Evan, knowing me & my quirks pretty well, laughed and said, "That's the wrong direction for your 'going home' pictures!"
My going home pictures started back in 2007, and most (though by no means all) have been taken on Metro North platforms waiting for trains heading south back to the city.
So he was right, in the practical sense that most of my going home pictures are about returning to my city, my beloved New York. But I was right in the less practical way I think of my going home pictures: going towards (or being in) places that help me feel one with where I've been, where I am, who I have become.
Marble Hill is a quirky place: one of those rare instances where no matter which direction I'm heading, I'm somehow going home. I love that station, perched there between the Marble Hill cliffs and the seemingly always sparkling Spuyten Duyvil Creek.
Heading south there is the Broadway Bridge and Broadway itself and all the places along its trajectory that I have lived, and those few beautiful Brooklyn months and that one frigid January week in Queens and, further still, that strange handful of months in Philadelphia.
Heading north there is so much of what I was before I was eighteen but also so many of the people I am lucky enough to still carry with me. There is my Ari-love. There is my Ben. There are reunions and reminiscences and losses and the lake.
And there is Cindy, my Cyn, my rabid child, girl of my girlhood somehow letting me grow with her into a shared adulthood.
It wasn't until yesterday afternoon, as I stood on the southbound platform in Cold Spring taking this picture and listening to Evan say over my shoulder, "How many of your pictures have been from here?" that I realized how often I am going and coming from Cindy's home.
Not long after we arrived in Cold Spring yesterday I fell in love with her second child, her wee Junebug, just as I fell in love with her first child almost three and a half years ago. (Helen and I have matching orange hats. Yesterday, as we were leaving, I put on my hat and smiled over at Helen who promptly shouted across the room, "Emma! You look like a pumpkin head!" And that -- let me tell you, that made me smile.)
Not long after that she and her John started plying me with stuff: small things they have somehow accrued between visits and know that I will love. This time it was Burt's Bees Citrus & Ginger Root Body Wash, ginger-infused maple syrup and red wine maple vinegar from their friends at 3-Chicks Sugar Shack. Other times it has been sparkly nail polishes and avocado body washes and orange-cranberry scented lotions.
For days after a visit to Cold Spring I spend my time listening to music I've heard at their house. This time so far it's been Mumford & Sons, though this is only the beginning of what they sent home with me yesterday. A few years ago it was Bon Iver's For Emma, For Ever Ago (from which I am listening to The Wolves as I type, and which remains one of my favorite songs of all time, and yet one I associate somehow with Februaries, and with ice, and with great sadness and loss).
Years ago, one Friday night in January of 2007, I went home with Cindy to Brooklyn where she and John were living at the time, and I cried on their couch in the wake of what I thought was the love of my live leaving me. It was freezing that winter, so cold I couldn't breathe, or so it seemed. I remember sitting next to John on their couch, and I remember bursting into tears, and I remember that he got up so that Cindy could come wrap her arms around me, and I remember that they gave me a set of their keys that night so that I could always go to their home if the thought of being at my own home was ever too horrible.
Things have gotten less dramatic since then, but not long after they moved to Cold Spring they insisted on giving me a set of keys to their new home. I've never had to use them, have never even taken them with me on my numerous trips to visit them these past few years, but it's a comfort to know I have them here somewhere.
And Evan was right, of course, in that way he has of so often being. Nearly half of my going home pictures are coming home from Cold Spring, from my Cindy's home.
I guess that's the thing about going home. It can mean so many things, be so many places. I guess I'm lucky that I have so many places to go home to, and also that I have so many places to come home from.