One of my favorite places in New York: the gardens surrounding The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, on Amsterdam between W. 110th & 112th. Although hemmed in by tall apartment buildings and the noise and bustle of Amsterdam, when you step into the gardens the surrounding city seems to magically disappear (as it did quite literally in these photos, snapped on a misty morning). It's a timeless, sacred space that welcomes all...no matter what your spiritual beliefs may be.
I used to live just around the corner from St. John's, many years ago, when Ellen Kushner and I shared an old apartment in a gargoyle-bedecked building on W. 110th. Ellen was working on her first novel, Swordspoint, at the time; I was busy with projects like the "Fairy Tales" series; and we were writing Borderland stories together. In our thoroughly urban lives, it was a blessing to have this enchanted green space to steal away to when needed...particularly as the area was a whole lot rougher then: a colorful, lively, but run down neighborhood with an edge of danger.
Coming here now, I can almost see the ghosts of the young women we were back then, sitting on benches tucked away in hidden corners of the gardens as we plotted out our stories, puzzled out our lives, poured out our hearts over various love affairs....
I suspect if I met that younger self now, I'd be proud of her and embarrassed by her in equal measure. She made a lot of mistakes. But she made some good choices too...particularly in her friendships.
And that's what matters most. That's what lasts. That's what makes everything else possible.