Yesterday, I spent my afternoon bouncing around Manhattan with a coworker from Texas A&M who was in NYC for a conference. We headed up the Metropolitan Museum for the Museum Mile Festival and then down to Lili’s 57 for dinner. It was a gorgeous evening so we walked from the MMA on 83rd to West 57th … and then down to East 48th to her hotel.
This is the first time that my Texas A&M world and my NYC world merged … and it was glorious. My colleague is a great listener and she seemed genuinely interested in all of my NYC tales, especially those about my family and my love of art. I found myself gushing about my hometown and career choice in ways that I’ve never said aloud before … and in ways that ultimately surprised me. She asked me how much time I spent at the MMA before moving to Texas. I was astonished when I struggled to count the many times a month I went to the museum just to walk around, or have lunch in the American Wing, or to meet a friend. The museum is one of my “safe places” where I decompress or think. It’s also a place I go to get inspired when I’m doubting my research or career choice. I recounted how wonderful it was to bring students to the museum. I remembered how inspired, overwhelmed, and gracious my students were, and how utterly blown away they were to experience a Monet or van Goth for the first time. It was bittersweet to realize how much I miss taking a gaggle of kids to the museum, more so now that I fully teach online.
As I spoke I started to remember my first time seeing many of my “old friends” — art works and objects that deeply and profoundly affected me. I remember finally figuring out Cézanne, something that completely changed the way I painted and thought about space. I remember seeing Dalí’s Persistence of Memory at the Museum of Modern Art for the first time and noting just how small it is — a gorgeous, Freudian jewel. And Rosa! My Rosa Bonheur’s The Horse Fair … no, she’s not “disagreeably hidden” Dr. Saslow … I respectfully disagree! She’s mirrored in that gorgeous, rearing female Percheron that firmly and confidently takes the center of the painting. She is that untamable Percheron, a spotty grey and white French draft horse with a mind of its own. I feel a counter argument coming on! jots down a reminder to start the research and writing
As we strolled the streets I pointed out landmarks — civic and personal — and told stories of growing up in NYC. At various points she looked at me and smiled, eventually telling me that I sound so happy to be home. Home. What a glorious word! I’m home ….
In so many ways, I’m home.
I won’t lie, I’m horribly sore today. I’m overweight and out-of-shape. I wore the wrong shoes because I didn’t think we would do that much walking, so my feet hurt today. My inner thighs are chaffed. And my muscles! oh! my muscles are on fire. Despite all of this, I am profoundly happy today. The “walk about” around Manhattan and in my memories did me some good. I have an incredible desire to re-read my Masters thesis and my Doctoral dissertation — projects I want to continue, parts of my cerebral life left unfinished. I want to look at more art. I want to think deep, beautiful thoughts.
This may be somewhat premature, but perhaps … just maybe … I’m finding my groove right here where I left it: in NYC.