(published March 6th through my newsletter)
Well, I’m back in New York City for a brief stay – presently up at my mom’s place in Washington Heights.
From her living room I can hear the rush of the Westside Highway, and see the gray broth of the Hudson River with a slow line of trucks traversing the George Washington Bridge.
I got the plane ticket in January following a strong intuition that I should get here for my sister and niece’s birthdays, which are both this weekend.
Also, I wanted to touch in with my mom who is at an exciting moment renovating the HDFC apartment that it took her two years to find and purchase. HDFC are restricted-sale buildings that can be affordable housing options for buyers in a certain income bracket who put in a hefty down-payment.
It’s the first NYC apartment she will own – a real dream come true. After lots of misses, she struck gold with this spacious spot (900 sq feet!) in an elegant older building on 113th St., just north of Central Park.
Seriously, this place is going to be gorgeous, especially with her design eye. I’m so happy/relieved my mom found it and the sale went through. But it’s a legit gut renovation in a very raw state at the moment – stripped bare!
We headed down yesterday to peak at the renovation progress. After getting out of the subway at 110th, we walked along the north side of Central Park.
My eyes strayed to the massive boulders that line the top of the park.
Mom, look at those wonderful boulders you can visit – they are so close to your new home!
She laughed at me, aware I was seeking the comforts of my rocky desert landscape here in the city.
It’s true. Despite all the great family reasons to touch in to NYC, it’s hard to be here now.
Two days before my flight east, I started getting nervous and looking for excuses not to come.
Not because I don’t love this city, but because at this moment in my life, I am straddling two parts of myself.
I am shifting from an old way of being to a new way, and it is being expressed symbolically in my move from the city to the desert.
It feels as though I have a foot in each place within ME. I want to be confident I’ve shifted my weight forward enough that I won’t fall back again into the old version of Ariel.
Heroin-addicted Vietnam soldiers changed the medical understanding of addiction when many came home and their “addictions” disappeared. Their dependence on the drug was based on the trials and stresses of being at war on foreign land.
By changing their physical circumstances, that part of themself that “needed” the drug was resolved.
Although I was not addicted, per se, during my final phase of life in the city, I was operating out of a part of myself that needed to transform.
Relocating to a wilder place in the world has facilitated powerful inner shifts. I know, I just know, I cannot turn my back on whatever the desert represents. I have to keep going deeper into it.
To help prep for this trip, Tuesday night I envisioned the travels going beautifully, feeling my desert self (some friends jokingly now call me “Feriel” as in feral Ariel) fully intact here.
I can do this! I decided. My flight didn’t leave until nightfall on Wednesday, so I had plenty of time to prepare.
It was sunny and warm in the desert Wednesday when I awoke. I went to a gentle yoga class, got pretty little gifts from a local shop for my nieces, then cleaned and organized the Scamp.
I scrubbed the counters, swept the floor, stacked my books, burned the burnables (I pee outside then burn the TP), composted, cracked windows, and made sure it felt really fresh and airy inside the camper.
It struck me how few things I felt I needed to bring. In the past, I have overpacked with many “just in case” items of clothing, shoes, cosmetics, etc. For this trip though, I packed just a backpack and small handbag.
Then at the end of the day Wednesday, I sat out in a lawn chair with bare feet on the sandy earth and watched the sun set over the distant mountains. Once darkness fell, I drove down the winding road to the airport in Palm Springs and trundled myself onto that plane heading east.
So far, even though I’m back in this old place that represents my old self, I don’t feel like I’m falling backwards.
So far, it’s really good to have this time with mom, and I can’t wait to see my sister and nieces.
Just to touch down. Briefly. Touch down and touch in with family, with the “home” I’ve known for many years… then go back out there again feels really healthy.
Now that I’m here, I can sense how the desert isn’t going anywhere, and neither is my calling to be there. I’m so curious what the next phase of unfolding will be upon my return… I have a feeling it’s going to get even wilder.
Do you get what I’m talking about here? Have you ever undergone a major physical move that’s essentially about an inner shift?
Or are are you craving one now?
Happy Friday friend,
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