The Escape, May 29, 2014

Last Saturday I was in heaven. At 11 am I stepped off a bus and took a look at my surroundings -- there was Storm King Mountain to the north, acres and acres of sculptures, trees, streams and fresh air.

“I’m so excited. Let’s make a flower crown,” I said to D. and L., who had kindly joined me to check something off my Summertime To-Do List: a trip to Storm King Art Center. I’d seen so many beautiful Instagram photos taken there and in the winter missed my chance to make it. In spring we put a date on the calendar and bus tickets were bought.

I needed a good getaway.

I had a long scroll list of sculptures I was dying to see. But first, we all needed to eat. There was an outdoor café (minimally dressed) at the beginning of the park. We had only seen the entrance, but I was already in love. Birds chirped consistently, the grass was high. I had been in Central Park almost every weekend since the beginning of May, but this was different. This was the miles-from-civilization, natural, amazing sort of escape that I wanted. We even saw a woodchuck. My first.

D. knew the park well, so we took her lead. We went up into the trees, past ethereal silver statues and hidden little gems among the bush. At the bottom of a hill was the one I was most excited to see, Menashe Kadishman’s “Suspended.” I spun in circles a la “The Sound of Music.” There were so many pleasurable wide open spaces.

Along a path we noticed a deeper, steep path that led to a racing stream. The three of us carefully descended, and for the first time we were totally alone in the forest. The stream was instantly calming. I pretended to do the tree pose and laughed.

“This is so nice. My blood pressure is lowering from this stream.”

We rested on a blanket by a lake. I was suddenly very appreciative of my two friends.  D. and L. converse on the highest level: about ideas. The two of them are eons more well-read than I ever will be, and very learned equally as important -- damn funny. Only with those two can I drop lines like: “You’re going to go all Eve Ensler on them,” and they’ll get it. I’m learning through these past few weeks how important friendships are. I know I spend the majority of my time chasing down The Great Romance, but those are fragile boughs.

At 3 pm a light rain fell, and we had successfully toured the grounds. We settled back at the outdoor café under the covered porch and when the rain fell, it was lovely. We talked about writing, our dreams, our ambitions until it was time to go home.

We took the bus back to the city and in no time, mountains transformed to highways and tunnels and eventually we were back on the grid (read: New York). In the bus terminal I sniffed my jacket.

“Do I smell like outdoors?” I asked D. “Kids smell like outdoors, you know. I don’t want to go to my hair appointment smelling like a kid.” I was already back on my weekend schedule, a hair appointment at 7 pm, as if the mountains had taught me nothing and that “getting away” was a ruse. Out in the street I raced through traffic for a cab. My blood pressure raised to its normal, New York level. Zen, for me, is possibly non-transferable.