An Old Friend

By: Gabriela Yareliz

HELLO

I have been itching to get back here. My little fingers, burning to hit those keys in nonwork related matters. Typically, I am furiously plucking at my keyboard editing a motion while having a work Zoom meeting on in the background. I am also skilled at balancing my iPad on my lap while I type in court (the clerk shooting me dirty looks because I am efficient). And by the time all is said and done, I don’t want to sit in the glow of the computer screen any longer. Today, I finally felt up to it. My whole heart and brain are here.

‘Hello’ to my friends in the snowy Midwest. Earlier in the week, my grandfather sent me a video of the snow falling, an inch a minute. He told me then he was so sick of the snow already. I wonder how he feels now that there is a full blown bomb cyclone with more snowfall covering the area. The Midwest is white and slushy, apparently. Meanwhile, here in the Northeast, we can’t get enough of the rain. It was the same last week. I just went out to get water because, you know, when you get that little mental nudge and Alexa tells you a half dozen times that there are weather advisories, you listen. So, I am stocked up on water like the apocalpyse is coming. I will sip tea into any crisis.

When I saw all the snow falling in Michigan, I got nostalgic. I Google street viewed my grandfather’s house. Then, I couldn’t remember my old street in Michigan, so I googled an Arby’s in that town that arrived in 1999 (it is still there– when I would fake run away from home through my window, I liked going there), and I found my old street and house. I wondered where my old nice neighbors were and what became of them. I wondered if the grape vine was there on the fence still. Places shape us, and yet they are constantly changing and leaving us behind.

I then found my old house and street in another state. I couldn’t find the Air Force Base house because no street view goes in there, I assume, for security reasons. I wondered how my old teacher was and whether the golf course on base was still green as ever. I wondered what changed without me. I have, over the years, realized there is no place I can really go back to that feels just like my memory.

That’s the thing, when you move a lot– you are constantly leaving places and people behind and changing, but then, you realize the places change without you, too. The last time I went home, even Central Florida felt so different. Gainesville was an entirely different place from my college days. I felt like it had left me behind. I was a stranger. That’s the thing about change, we don’t realize how encompassing it is. It creeps up on us.

This week, as I wandered around Manhattan, I got the opposite feeling. I mean, don’t get me wrong, parts of the City are different from when I got here. There are different businesses and places that close and pop up. But this week, it felt strangely familiar. It felt like it used to. It felt festive and glitzy and extended its hand out to me. The island whispered softly, dream, with all of its sparkling lights glowing adoringly. That familiarity felt comforting. It was the first time I ever really did feel comforted by the City. I didn’t feel like I was leaving it behind or like it was leaving me behind. It felt like we were in sync, moving together.

She felt like a friend who, after a long crisis and stage of self-abandonment, puts on a party dress, blows out her hair and puts on her best makeup. She winked, she danced, and she greeted me with the warmest, most familiar, yet unexpected hug.

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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