That’s the thing: New York doesn’t say good-bye.

NY, like the cosmos, doesn’t know that we’re there. If NY teaches you anything besides directness and stubborn self-sufficiency, it is that it will not miss you when you leave—there is too much else going on.

I’ve never minded that it was a one-way love. I have spent enough time to know that NY has a way of staying with you, even when it and you have undergone a mutual separation. I had once again been touched by the place. Overwhelmed by it. Swept away by it. Dazzled it. I felt a love great enough for both of us. But now it was time to go.

I am sometimes possessed of the unfortunate habit, when travelling, to be mentally where I know I’ll need to be rather than where I am. It colors my thoughts, moment to moment. From the moment I woke that morning, I was concerned with making certain everything was packed…with making the most of my last few hours with Belinda…with making sure that she would have the remainder of the day to herself. I was still full of the previous days’ experiences. But there was an airport to get to. I didn’t look back.

Once at the airport and through security, I could settle down. Transcribe some notes. Woolgather. People watch. Think. Two hours at an airplane window gives you plenty of time to do that. The pages in my notebook found new ink. Small thoughts gave rise to bigger ones.

Then, on the shorter flight from Chicago to Springfield, the journey ended with a cosmic beneficence.

We flew parallel to a massive thunderstorm that spanned almost the length of a state; close enough to be wonderful, just far away for safety. Over us, stars. Beside us, the earth was being pounded by storms; rain and hail and tornadoes. But from that safe vantage, drama and beauty. Pillars of heaven lit from within. Bubbles of light that danced from the tops of clouds. Bright bolts and suggestions of hidden riot. All to the music of John Adams, the only visual accompaniment to his music that has ever felt as magnificent as the music itself.

In a trip that touched every one of my senses, that possessed my heart and attention, it was as if New York was saying good-bye.

TOMORROW: Back to Writing…and the difference I, You and They bring to the story.