“Don’t worry if you smell anything funky…it’s just the dead, rotting mice in the walls,” he said as she picked up the keys on day one. “OK, thanks,” she replied in a tone that belied her shaken confidence.

She found herself in a foreign land…or so it seemed. The smells were different; they were stronger. Incense filled the air; it was inescapable. The sounds were different. Either she now had a gorilla living upstairs or a guy who squashed roaches with each heavy step, maybe both. The people — their attitudes — were different. They epitomized the word “chill.” Heck, they probably invented its colloquial meaning. Beards were way in. So much so, she noted an article about how razor sales were down in the outer boroughs. It would take time to acclimate.

Rach's Visit to NYC 6.29.12 005

It is not often easily understood how a city of 8 million people can also be a city of loneliness. But it’s true. In this new life she felt even more alone. Alone, but optimistic.

At night she lay awake, willing herself to sleep by pretending the street noise was from a complimentary Brookstone sound machine. She thought “what am I doing here?” The tightness in her chest was unfamiliar. It was fear and anxiety mixed with curiosity and excitement, but she liked it. She was out of her element and recognized, now, that it was good for her. At the very least it made her feel something deeply…what, exactly, she couldn’t yet be sure.

One thing was clear: it was a city of artists. For artists. The air was thick with creativity. Anyone could see it. It was evident in the shops, on the sidewalks, from conversations overheard one bar stool down. Artists of all kinds — musicians, writers, filmmakers, actors, painters — offered support and encouragement to one another, lending an ear whenever necessary. Even the bankers, social workers and dentists-by-day come back over the bridge, shed their second skins, and pull out their artistic weapons of choice.

Sitting with her back against the wall, pillows propped up to keep the position sustainable, she pondered this new life. She took note of the idiosyncrasies that made Brooklyn home — the incense, the noise, the creativity, the dead mice.

Then she began to write.