A place of one's own
I went there late at night,
when I knew no one would be around.
I went there to be alone,
or was it when I was afraid of being lonely.
I went there to escape,
when reality was too cold.
I went there to think,
it was my private space in a public place.
I went there to smoke,
when the cold winter air pierced my fingers.
I went there to share it with him,
when I thought he could love me as much.
I went there to weep,
desperately seeking someone who could understand.
I go there to be still,
when the big city frequency drowns me out.
There is a park not far from where I live that inspired this poem, I'm not a poet or anything but these are just the words I feel when I think of that isolated park. It has been such a source of comfort for me in my time living in NYC. It's not a big famous park and barely anyone who didn't already know it. And after the first time I laid eyes on it I was hooked.
I was walking back home from a dentist appointment, I'd had three others earlier that month and I was getting frustrated. It was like the dentists were experimenting on my teeth because clearly no one knew how to take a thorough impression of my teeth. It was around 6pm and I decided to walk back; my mouth was numb and I thought the cool even air would help.
With headphones plugged in with a podcast to keep me company, I marched down the avenue in the direction of my dorm. I'd never walked this way before, even on my way to the dentist I had taken the train. It was pleasant until I heard the ambulance siren approaching from my left. Ambulances were no foreign thing to a New Yorker, after sometime you literally forget that someones life is in danger and they are rushing to go save them.
I was nearing my destination but I wasn't quite ready to go in, I paused looking around for a shop or bookstore I could walk into to kill the time but all I saw was the park. A man and his dog passed by me in that exact direction and that was all the encouragement I needed to go in. My mother would never approve of my being in a park when its nearly dark, I suppose a part of me was a little scared. I could get robbed or something, I was alone and the sun was setting. But most of me didn't care, I just wanted to see it so I walked through the gates. It was odd to see a park with an actual gate, perhaps that's what made me feel safe.
The man and his dog continued to walk around and I sat. It had been a long day of classes and work and I just needed a break. Almost simultaneously my phone died, like the park wanted me to be present, conscious of the moment. The Harry Potter podcast would have to wait until later. I thought about heading home but I didn't want to, I popped off my headphones and just listened. The wind whistled, the dogs barked, the teenagers giggled and I listened. It wasn't anything extra ordinary, I didn't have any epiphany on that park bench. For the first time since I'd moved to New York I just sat there and observed, it was a transcending feeling. There was no hurry or deadline there was just me and the park and I loved it.
Following that day I made it a habit to walk by the park on my way back from my dentist's appointments and when those were over I found myself passing by after school somedays and before work on others. I formed a whole routine around this small space and I wasn't going to break it; it rained, it snowed and I was still going there nearly every day.
I made the mistake of sharing my place with another and he ruined it for me, we sat on the benches and he insulted the poorly lit corner and the uneven grounds. He saw flaws where I saw beauty, he saw something old and boring where I witnessed inexplicable joy and serenity. I started to look through his eyes and I stopped going to the park so much. I quit smoking and the winter felt colder. I had no peace of mind and he destroyed the one thing that calmed me. I went back one day after a checkup at the dentist, I never intended to go there. My feet just remembered the familiar route home and I sat down there. It was around spring and the trees were sprouting their new leaves. It didn't feel the same, but I wasn't the same either and that was alright. I had missed that bench on the uneven ground with the overarching tree branch. I missed the comfort it brought me to be there on my own. Its nearly been a year since I found my peaceful spot and looking back I've had a lot of beautiful moments sitting there, I thought it was worth putting into words.
I don't go there everyday. I still go there alone. It was a space for me and I wasn't going to give it away again.