Almost everything is packed, so I pulled on the old, very old, stand-by hat this morning before I went out for morning coffee. The hat with the red B on the front that matches my fire-truck-red lips still stained from the night before. Untamed hair bending and curving and trying to fly away, all shoved under a baseball cap. Protesting for freedom, not from the hat but from the hair straightener and tight buns of the past two years. Uncombed, mostly undried, lightly tousled the night before, "I like it." "I like it." I like it." And now it wants nothing less and nothing more.
Its protests are in vain; my eyes are on the red B. It's an instant. It's a flash. Of the Atlantic crashing against jagged grey rocks, of the New England coast, until the sound of the waves turn into distant chants. Of "Red. Sox. Yank. Ees." and I'm in Dodgers' stadium watching the Rockies score, homesick and madly in love with the nomadic rivalry. It all travels with me.
I pull down the brim and the red B and step outside. It's fall-like but here that means warm still, and the leaves won't change until November. November, when the snow falls in Vermont and when I'll walk the streets of a grey-brown New York City, remembering glasses of wine on the front porch with guitars and no mosquitoes. The only November I spent here; I'll remember it warm and full.
The streets here are filled with manicured nails and manicured hair, grown on manicured, green lawns. The women come to buy diamonds, neon flats, and chevron printed maxi dresses. Men only a handful of years older than I chase toddlers down the sidewalk. My B now too red and too bright, my clothes too muted, my hair too unruly. When I am too much and not enough, I slip away.
It's routine, I fall easily into a day dream's facade - a neighborhood of my own. Brownstones and coffee places and storefront flower bouquets on the corner, the freshest and brightest sights on the block. Iron stair rails leading up to front doors, each a little different, the grooved designs and the details of each knocker. Concrete sidewalks and the sound of my feet walking block after block. The sound is the same there as it is here, I could be there, there could be here, here could be there.
It's routine, but this morning, this morning there's an abrupt realization: this is the last of this Sunday morning routine. Within days, there will be coffee in New England and then coffee in Brooklyn. There will be many Sunday mornings with coffee in Brooklyn. If not among brownstones, at least a few steps closer. So I drop the facade and open my eyes. This is the last of the Red Door Spa and the last of the Cheese-Cake-Factory-Sunday-brunch-goers-with-tables-for-two-on-the-sidewalk and the last of this Starbucks stand at the entryway of the mall. "Grande iced coffee with room" and she doesn't ask my name before scribbling it on my cup in black marker.
There are ones that know me here. My name in black marker and much more. I called this place home. There is comfort in knowing that. And there is comfort in knowing that in time it, too, will become an instant, a flash. It will travel with me. It will be my name on the side of the cup, the warm November nights on the front porch, the sound of guitars. It will become the beginning of untamed hair, uncombed, mostly undried, lightly tousled the night before, asking for nothing less and nothing more. An exhale of freedom among perfection. It will become the first sip of morning coffee with last night's stained red lips.