To me, New York has never been quiet.

No quiet. That’s an understatement. Even on the quietest Sunday night in late-night Brooklyn, with the streets deserted and the world tucked up under its covers, the city was always breathing around me. I could hear it thinking. Its millions of people felt like a tremble, a buzz, that never stopped for a moment. One felt, even in the city-at-peace, as if one were holding one’s breath in the midst of it all.

There are folks who thrive on that buzz. Belinda is one. Away from that constant life, she was the proverbial fish out of water. I, I fear, am not one of those people.

I thought I was tougher; that time and life-experience would have put a little leather between the city and my over-exposed nerve endings. I know when I am wide open and vulnerable; when I’m writing, I cultivate that exquisite sensitivity; I safeguard it almost jealously. But this…

Oh dear. Lynn ain’t so tough after all.

Between Mario Bataly’s Eataly on Saturday morning, then the Union Square Farmer’s Market and Jean Georges for lunch (more on all of those in the next post), I must have looked like a bunny-rabbit staring down the wheels of an onrushing car. The tough, aggressive street-surfer of the previous day was gone. It was too much. Too-too much.

Back at Belinda’s place, I sat on the terrace looking up at the sky and at the floors of high-rise windows. Behind each, a person with eyes, breath, thoughts; life after life, minute after minute, and all of it looking down right over my shoulder…souls to the right of me and left of me; above me and below.

Now, considering what I’m working on right now, that overloaded sensation wasn’t an entirely bad thing. As writerly material, great. But as pure experience, I could not be as graceful or grateful in my reaction. All I could think was “Could someone turn it off, please? For just a second? Please?” And that’s the thing: No head under the covers, no three ayem waking, is going to dispel that feeling.

Will that reaction interfere with my wanting to go back again? Hell no. Was it like having somebody shove a fist into my lungs? Hell yeah. Do I love NY any less for it? Again, hell no. Does my own reaction  give me the serious fidgets? Hell, HELL yes.

I need my river. I need my silence. I need the whispering sky. I need the don’t-talk-to-me-for-a-while, and don’t-make-a-sound. The exposed nerve that is my psyche needs a place to settle for a bit. That place I can fill with the music of the words.

Then, NY, get ready.  I’ll be back for another round. And I’ll have my dukes up.