Native – or even transplanted – New Yorkers will often refer to a specific emotion they experience upon reentering the city after an intermittent time away. There are variations on this theme, yet the majority of them center upon one moment, emerging from the steps outside Penn Station, the soft white lights from Times Square somehow illuminating high-rise windows more than a half-mile down the road. There is safety here, a sudden warmth, the embrace of something both ethereal and palpable … the smell of vendors, the fast-vanishing horns, more layers of white noise than early man could imagine.
While I do not arrive by train on this particular evening, the maudlin calm remains the same. After 15 days out on the road, my legs have grown tight and both palms have grown calluses. My apartment here is smaller than most hotel rooms where I’ve stayed. Yet as I return to it tonight I feel an overwhelming sense of joy. I am home now, free and clear. Tomorrow will offer new stories to be told.