You’ve been my dream since the day I learned of your existence. I’d had no idea there was a full, fresh, green land just waiting for my exploration. But I didn’t want to go alone. I wanted a very specific person to come with me, to wander around your paths together. I waited three years. It didn’t happen. I knew if I kept waiting, I would never get to you. And as I was passing by you today on my way to Prospect Park, something tugged inside me.
I debated whether or not to buy a ticket and come introduce myself to you. I knew it wasn’t an experience I wanted to have on my own. But he wouldn’t take me, and no one else seemed inclined to come with me. So I guess I thought I was taking matters into my own hands. Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you stop me? I was already in a bad mood when I arrived at your gates; I knew coming in wasn’t going to help. The circumstances were certainly not how I had envisioned our meeting. I wanted so much more from that moment. I told myself not to pay $15 for a ticket, to just keep walking to the park right next-door: free, beautiful, and largely unexplored by me. I told myself your flowers were likely all gone, just the strongest few remaining. There would be only plants and shrubs, which, while nice, are not what I need. What would be the point of going in today, when I can taste the change in seasons on my lips? I had every reason to keep going.
But the season has changed now. Officially. I knew that if I kept walking, passing you by, I would miss my last chance to see you even remotely close to your peak level of wonder. I would have to wait another 10 months for you to wake up, shake off the winter, and start to dig your way back out of the softening dirt. The idea of waiting that long, when you are so close that I pass you every day on my morning commute, was almost physically painful. I told myself there would still be some stragglers alive inside, there are flowers that bloom in autumn. I told myself there would still be things to admire and smell and touch. I told myself this was my very last chance before another endless winter.
So even though I knew it would hurt more than it would help, I went forward. I bought your ticket. I put the complimentary map away and just let myself go where I felt. I put in some headphones, played some melancholy music, and went forward. You did still have some real beauty to offer. There are fall-blooming flowers; there is a garden of herbs made entirely for those with impaired vision, filled with plants smelling of mint and apples and chocolate; there are chipmunks skittering around. You didn’t feel empty, you just felt tired. I can relate.
But despite the beauty and strength you possess, what I noticed most was the hollow that formed inside of me. My chest cavity ached. I didn’t want to be there alone. I didn’t want this to be your first impression of me. I watched the families and the lovers walk, laugh, hold each other. And there I sat, alone with my journal. A tear or two slipped out, just barely, and I felt like I was disrespecting everything you stood for. I’ve been waiting and waiting to meet you, why didn’t I just wait a little longer? Why did I sour our introduction with my loneliness and isolation, disappointment and longing? I wanted to present myself to you in all the right ways, I wanted to be glowing inside and out. Instead, what you probably saw was a lightly sweaty ambler, staring at people for too long, sniffling every few minutes, and occasionally smiling softly to herself.
I vow to come back. When it is warm, and the days are lazy and bright, I will return to you a better woman. I will spend the months in between now and then forming myself into the right person for you. I will be worthy. We can have a do-over, and this time it will go how it has always been meant to. The only pit in my heart will be the painful happiness of facing something so beautiful it is almost excruciating. It will be everything it is meant to be, I promise us both.
Until next time,