Today I met a new friend, Valeria, in a cafe I've never been to before, Society Coffee Lounge at 2104 Frederick Douglass Blvd. at 114th St. We had a lovely talk about writing and how to reshape pieces of life into fiction. We enjoyed the coffee, crab cakes, grits, and each others company. She has had a fascinating life growing up in Russia!
As I walked back, I decided to try a new route on 113th through Morningside Park. The view was lovely, cathedral and trees forming a scrim behind Harlem's rooftops. Now as odd as this sounds, I have never ever walked this particular path before. Not in all the years I've lived in this neighborhood. I've walked north along the top of the hill on the Columbia University side (looking down into the valley of the park), walked the south side on my way to the much larger Central Park, but simply never entered it going west at 113th street. Following a man leading two large dogs onto a green lawn near a baseball field, I discovered a tall (for a city) waterfall rippling into a pond near a flight of stone steps. I walked up 18 flights of stairs through dappled leaf and earth scented shade. Soon there was no view behind or above me, just green and green and I felt like I'd reached the heart of summer. I was magically alone in this huge city. Butterflies bobbed, a few wildflowers shook their heads, and even the occasional dented cola can seemed like a glint of treasure.
I thought about friendships new and old. Today is my friend Deborah Atherton's birthday. The days feel lighter with friends, the heart fuller. Happy birthday Deborah. And to Valeria too, who had a birthday last month before we had gotten to know each other. Known paths and new ones, all welcome.