Originally posted February, 2008
When you’re feeling less than yourself, get on the “A” train around 8:30 p.m., exit at 59th Street and go have a swim at the YMCA. Swim and swim and swim until you can’t swim anymore, then go another lap. Have yourself a steam bath and sweat the man who’s hurt you one too many times right out of your body, then sweat him no more. Take a long shower, wash your long hair, get dressed slowly. Say goodnight to the woman at the front desk, and when you exit onto the street, decide that instead of going home, you’ll walk twenty-three blocks up Broadway to see your mom. Stop and get a cappuccino to go (decaffeinated, it’s almost eleven after all), then continue north. Toss out your empty cup at 79th Street, and as you approach your mom’s place on 86th, notice how fast you move. Notice the weight of your backpack, the way your braid, wet from the shower, feels cold and heavy on your neck, and how your bright red sneakers peering out from blue jeans hit the ground. As you turn the corner enjoy the moment you feel 16 again, and because you do, you start to run. You run through the black iron gates of the building where your father lived and where you first kissed the man you’d marry. You wave at the doormen, who are waving at you, then bolt across the courtyard, past the fountain, through the glass doors and up the stairs. You turn the key and call, “Mom!” You’re bursting as you fly into her room where she’s in her pajamas and in her bed. You take off your sneakers, toss your backpack, you are your mother’s child, and she smiles and shouts, “You look like a kid!”
Then notice how it feels to be 44 and 16 at the same time – tell your mother what hurts and listen to her wisdom. After a while let her close her eyes as you go into the kitchen and make yourself a slice of toast and jam. Then write it all down, shut off the computer, climb into bed and, feeling more like yourself than you did before, fall asleep next to your mom.
I mean, if you’re me.