Monday, October 5, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - The Woods Can Wait

I woke up at 5:45 on Sunday morning with the feeling that it was Christmas. I could barely sleep I was so excited. My friend and writing partner, Laura, made plans a few weeks ago to head up to Lake Minnewaska today with a group called Adventure Society. I've been interested in trying out their trips for over a year and Sunday was the day.

Got a new backpack, some gear at Patagonia, and bought a slew of snacks at Whole Foods. I was a bit surprised at the extensive "to-bring" list that Adventure Society emailed to us. My sister, Weez, and I used to go trekking up to that area regularly when we were kids donning sweatshirts and flip-flops. I grew up very close to Lake Minnewaska, and all we ever brought along was a bag of chips and some water. Maybe when you grow up in the mountains you're hardier than most others would be in that climate.

The subway was just not working properly so after waiting for 20 minutes, I hopped into a cab and headed to the meeting spot on 59th and 9th. I didn't want to be late and miss the group - they stated very clearly that "we wait for no one". Laura was there along with a few others. I wouldn't call the other people unfriendly, but I certainly wouldn't say I was excited about being in a van with them for two hours in each direction. Hmmmm....was this a good idea?

About 20 minutes later, we were still at Starbucks. Apparently our trip leader had been mugged late on Saturday night, had the van keys, and couldn't be located. The substitute trip leader said he was heading down to 39th and 9th to pick up a new van. I felt a little dark cloud making its way over our group.

By 8:30, I started to really questions whether or not this was a good idea. Still at Starbucks, the traffic would be tough now and the trip would be cut short by a significant amount. Being quicker than I am to pick up questionable vibes, Laura had decided 15 minutes ago that this didn't sound like a good idea at all. So we bid our group farewell, left the Starbucks, and headed up to Central Park on a hike of our own.

We wound our way East and then back West again. We eventually ended up at Sarabeth's with never-empty cups of coffee, a plate full of pancakes between us to share with our own individual meals to boot. I was overjoyed to not be in that van. Just being with a good friend, talking about our writing, was all I really needed this morning. The trees and grass and squirrels would have been great, though our ability to be flexible and accept to what the world had handed us today gave us just as much happiness.

"We can just go some other time," I said.

"Yes," Laura said. "I mean, where are the woods going?" We smiled at each other and chowed down.

We had a whole free day. Laura went home to work on the TJCC site re-design. I went back to my apartment, got out of my multiple layers of hiking clothes, and made my way to the Rose Main Reading Room to be a writer for the day. Sitting in that incredible room, laptop shining, I smiled at having the day to myself to live inside my imagination. (If ever you need to be concentrated and inspired, I highly recommend the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street.) My new Patagonia pull-over was supposed to be used for hiking in the mountains and instead I made use for it in the heavily air conditioned library. I was enormously productive. After four hours of straight writing, it's a safe bet that if you're looking for me on my free days, there I'll be, fourth table from the back, glasses on, laptop opened, surrounded by books and papers, typing away.

As I headed home, I grabbed a cupcake from Crumbs, and thought about Robert Frost: The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles [to write] before I sleep, and miles [to write] before I sleep. "At least for today," I thought, "the woods will just have to wait."

The photo above is not my own. It can be found here.

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