This weekend I drove straight from work in suburban Maryland to New York City. I spent most of my life in NY and it still feels like coming home when I spend time there. And as usual, NY had many lessons in creativity and process.
(“New York, just like I pictured it….”, Stevie Wonder)
The first stop was my friends, Imrana and Wick. They have a lovely house on Staten Island and by the time I got there, I was exhausted and hungry. Imrana instantly brought out food and served me dinner. Her cooking is an exquisite blend of nouvelle cuisine, health food style. Much of the food comes from a food co-op or she grows herself. I relaxed in that very familiar house and felt comforted. Then we sat in the living room and I patted Luna,her elderly dog, while we talked. I slept better than I have in weeks.
I woke up shortly after sunrise. The house was quiet, the quiet of sleeping humans. I showered and got myself some hot water, my favorite drink. Then I wandered around the house smiling at the comfort I felt in familiar surroundings and marveling as always at Imrana’s and Wick’s artistry in creating a home. Wick is a builder by trade (and a musician by choice) and he rebuilt much of the house. Imrana sanded wood and painted the walls. She sewed couch and chair covers, curtains, pillows and various other oddments, including cylindrical bolsters to quite effectively block the drafts coming in from the outside in the old house. The kitchen is lovely. Just the right size to be cozy, but bit enough to have two people cooking and one other person (me) sitting on a stool. Wick put in lovely wood cabinets, some with glass fronts, a stone counter top. There is a huge 6 burner gas stove. The windows look out onto trees and an expanse of their neighbor’s lawn (It is, after all, in a city, so of course there are other houses relatively nearby.)
Gradually the household woke up. We did yoga together and took the dog for a walk in lovely Snug Harbor. When we came back Zara and William, daughter and beau, were awake and starting to forage for food in the kitchen.
I said my goodbyes and rode into “the city” as Manhattan is often called. I then spent 4 glorious hours studying tantojujitsu with Salahuddin Muh’min Mohammed, a knowledgeable practioner from Philedelphia who was brought in by Eizan Ryu jujitsu, my old dojo. (both S.M.Mohammed and Eizan Ryu can be found on Facebook and YouTube) I saw friends. I threw friends down boom. They threw me down boom. I made new friends and we threw each other down boom. Life was very good.
By the end of the seminar, my son Jack had arrived and was watching the class. We rode together to Briarwood, Queens to meet my older son, Ian. Reunited, we walked to a local Indian restaurant. Two musicians were playing, a tabla-ist and an organist (the small organs that are operated by playing the keys with one hand and moving the bellows with the other hand). The music was lovely and I particularly love tabla with its complex rhythms. We chatted and ate, as the waitress, with motherly intent, extorted my sons to eat more. It was a delightful experience. We plotted the overthrow of the current Democratic congresswoman.
Have I mentioned my son is running for Congress? (see Ian Hamilton for Congress, either his website, Facebook, or Twitter)
The next morning Jack and I strolled out for coffee and a brief, but satisfying skateboard lesson. I do want to learn skateboard, particularly after seeing a great YouTube video of skateboard tricks on New York rooftops (kids, don’t try this at home).
Jack and I kissed goodbye as he went off to practice tai chi in Chinatown. Ian woke up and we drank more coffee. We strategized on mobilizing his neighbors and getting out votes. We ate Jamaican meat patties and Egyptian pita sandwiches. Ian taught me some salsa.
Finally, it was time to kiss Ian goodbye and head back south to Baltimore, husband and cat. At a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, I met Heather Johnson on her Triumph Tiger motorcycle. I admired her motorcycle since I rode motorcycles for about 14 years and was thinking of getting another one. Heather was heading to Mexico and blogging too. Check out her blog – it’s lots of fun. She’s a visual artist who works in whatever is handy, embroidery to photographs and lots in between. The blog is “in search of the frightening and beautiful.”
My New York trip seemed like a compressed lesson in the many forms of the muse, the many ways that creativity seeps, spurts, erupts in us. From Imrana’s and Wick’s singular house to Muhammed’s exhortion to “be creative,” to find what feels best in martial arts. From salsa and skateboard and tai chi to political solutions and machinations. From the stately art deco Empire State Building to the adventure of a woman, a motorcycle and a road to Mexico. From here……………………………………………………………………………to there.