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Back to Reality

I pulled into my parking space in the Bronx and locked the steel Club across my steering wheel. It had been over a month since I’d used it. It had been that long since I locked my car doors. The heat was high, the humidity off the charts. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. My time away was up.

Wearing a bulging backpack, rolling an overstuffed suitcase and carrying a heavy bag, I teetered the two blocks to the subway. Climbing the stairs was akin to climbing Mount Everest, and I shrugged as a train pulled in and out. I’ll get the next one. I was still in summer mode.

“Welcome home!” my doorman said, grabbing my bags. He put them in the elevator. “You’ve got a

package.” He disappeared for a moment and returned with a box that had been waiting for me, like a loyal pet.

Returning from a stretch on The Cape I had forgotten my apartment was no longer miniscule. There was room to toss my bags, unpack, and even cook a meal. Strangely enough though, it felt like I’d only been away for a long weekend, let alone over a month. I imagined it to be like someone awakening from a coma – dazed, confused, out of step.

After the mail was sorted, bills paid, and new art hung, I ventured over to Trader Joe’s. I still had my sea legs and the quick pace of the city dwellers had me feeling like a tourist. Trader Joe’s was packed. There were 35 people ahead of me in line. I counted. Was it only a week ago I was on line at Trader Joe’s in Hyannis where two people in line is considered “busy”?

Back on the street, arms heavy with bags (my car no longer outside in a spacious parking lot) I got a whiff of a familiar yet unpleasant aroma. The salty air had been replaced with the scent of urine. All around me screamed change. Screamed being the optimal word. Taxis whizzing by, horns honking, tires squealing. The loudest sounds I’d grown accustomed to were my niece and nephew’s laughter and a ferry’s whistle leaving the harbor.

Once groceries were put away, I went for a walk along the Hudson River. For a moment I was almost back on the Cape Cod Canal. Just seeing the water brought the calm back. Until a cyclist channeling an Olympic medalist almost mowed me down. And while there were no seagulls flying overhead, I did spy two rats fighting over a scrap of food.

Falling into bed I realized I had probably seen more people in my one day back in New York than I had all summer on Cape Cod. I certainly got bumped into by more. I shut off the light, closed my eyes and when I heard a car alarm go off, I smiled. I was home.

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