I don’t remember much about 2013, but one of the brightest memories was my solo trip to New York. In June of that year I found myself desperate for fresh air, distance from my situation, and in dire need of reflection, healing, and alone time. Less than a year prior, I had a whirlwind visit – my first to NYC – for a conference. When deciding on a place to take my much-needed respite, I chose New York, since I didn’t have a lot of time the first go-around to see the city properly. Plus, with the distance it is from Florida, and all the people and skyscrapers and hustle, I felt I could be anonymous and get lost, which is exactly what I needed.
On Father’s Day I found myself at Strawberry Fields in Central Park. My dad had been a huge Beatles fan, especially a fan of Lennon, and I always sort of associated that song (and others) to him. I snapped the above photo after taking some time to pause and reflect. I remember, at one point, climbing a nearby rock and sitting atop it; just as I did so, a sprinkle of rain began. Starting on this day, and as I’ve done in the years since, I sat and felt the energy of the memorial and those who visited it. There’s always a man on guitar singing songs, tourists huddled around the mosaic and taking turns with photos, birds and squirrels running around, and people squeezing through to go deeper into the park.
I lost my dad that year – very suddenly – just four months before I took my New York vacation. It’s the reason I went. I figured at the time that hopefully the trip would provide some context for my life moving forward; perspective on who I was, what I was doing, and where I wanted to go. And that’s exactly what the trip did for me, and I left feeling so much better. Little did I realise, however, the soon New York would be my home.
In four short years, so much has happened, and life has moved on. My family has expanded, and we are all in different situations – some good, some less than good. Overall, because of this, I would say we became stronger and more supportive of one another. We say I love you more, watch out for each other, and remember how the time spent together is important. Some days it still feels like yesterday, and some days it feels so long ago – a different life, much like my overall time in Florida feels nowadays. But memories of my Dad are always around me and I think of him often. As I sat in a ramen restaurant near my house the other night, shoveling the delicious noodles into my hangry mouth, I noticed the music that was playing. It was songs by The Beatles, and Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, etc – some of artists my dad enjoyed. And just as we were paying the bill and walking out, those familiar notes began to tingle over the speaker, and the song was ‘Imagine.’
// Photo: Central Park, NYC, June 2013. Featured in Open Up, available now.
In memory of my father, Lex.