Thursday 25 October, 2012. Central Park, New York. It’s 20 degrees and the sun is shining. After walking for three hours I climb some rocks and sit down. I’ve deliberately left my iPhone at the apartment I’m staying in so I can enjoy the day without electronic intrusion – no texts, no emails, and the music I hear isn’t pumping synthesized bass, but live from the buskers. My red handbag contains only a camera, my purse, a bottle of water, a pen and a notepad. I open it and pull out the pen and pad. I’m going to write the old-fashioned way. I’ll fill the crisp pages with blog entries, stories, letters … anything that comes to mind.
After two hours my hand aches and I put down my pen. As I emerge from my writing trance, I realise that I’m having the best day I can remember having in my adult life. It’s made better by the fact that I know it’s the best day. Usually I recognise the good times retrospectively, but I’m in one right now and I feel it.
The next few days are filled to the brim with experiences and events. In different ways I’m looking forward to all of them – including a work dinner tonight. I’m visiting my Swedish friend and I smile at the memory of seeing her this morning in her Halloween costume – she was born to dress as a Viking, complete with horned helmet and blonde plaits. I mentally run through my weekend schedule and savour the feeling of anticipation.
I don’t know that my body will become a vessel for wine during the approaching 72 hours and I’ll suffer the consequences. I don’t know that I’m soon to get so lost that it takes me two hours to return home. I don’t know that my father’s in hospital. I don’t know that I’ll wake tomorrow with a stye on my left eye so large that I look like I’ve been punched. I don’t know that Hurricane Sandy will wreak so much havoc. I don’t know any of these things. All I know is that I’m very excited about the good experiences and encounters heading my way.
I hear people near me and look up to see a dark-haired girl of about five standing directly on my right side. As her parents catch up to her she speaks.
Girl: What’s your name?
Me (smiling openly): Simone. What’s yours?
Girl: Rebecca. Thimone’s a funny name.
Me (laughing): And Rebecca’s a nice name.
Her parents must be a bit embarrassed by her comment because her father joins our conversation.
Him: Rebecca, there’s a song about a girl called Simone. (He starts singing) “Oh Simone, my heart is aching …”
Me (surprised that I’ve never heard these lyrics): Is that a real song?!
Him: Of course! It’s as old as the hills. “Simone” by Boz Scaggs.
Me: Well I’ve just learnt something new!
We chat briefly about where I’m from (they’re New York born and bred) and they head on their way. I enjoyed the fleeting interaction and I’m left to my peaceful, flawless day.
The bright yellow leaves lie still at my feet. Things are calm, things are perfect. But there’s a storm coming …