The cat attacks me, hissing and spitting while it simultaneously stands on its hind legs to run its face against my outstretched hand. Like everyone in this city, he doesn't know if he's really loving this, or really fucking hating it.
New York City.
The sounds of shouts of laughter and high pitched conversation seep up through the old hardwood floor of this old apartment building in Brooklyn. I sit on a strangers bed, their cat, unsure if it likes me or hates me, sits on the bed beside me; alternatively purring and hissing at me.
But it choose to hop up here next to me.
The laughter is of my boyfriend Ben and his sister and his sisters wife and a friend; all sitting around the borrowed kitchen table that we trooped around for the Thanksgiving meal; now wiped of its mismatched crystal and table cloth and epic amounts of food; and now bedecked with a tacky pack of playing cards. They're playing sevens. The slightly bastardized cousin of bridge. Contentios jibes are traded around the table like the bottles of red wine and forgotten rules of the game, each leaving the person for who's hands it was last in, a little more fuzzy and frazzled than before.
I, begging over turkey'd nausea, retreated up stairs to the apartment above. I am now, laying on this strangers bed, rather exhausted from the day of travel. But now, in the quiet, I can feel the city; it's energy thrumming with electricity around me. Out there, outside this dark and barred top floor window, out where the occasional car passing in the street sounds like wind. Out there running with the glare and dazzle of light, the night alive with it. And still further off I can feel Manhattan.
The big gold throbbing heart of it. It feels familiar and yet, this city moves on without you. Throwing up new buildings and altering its skyline. Almost like a lover, throwing out your favorite sweatshirt and the book you left on the nightstand.
But what I feel beneath the thick skin of night is not just that this great city has changed, but that I have. I feel different then when these streets were the place in the world I truly called home.
I am thinner and taller now, not just in my stature but in my spirit too. My eyes clearer, and more discerning, my walk not quite as hurried or efficient but there is a steely grace of confidence, I didn't have before.
Far off a siren wails. The cat is now asleep on the bed beside me.
Downstairs, the players still hurl their laughter out into the night.
The city, still throbbing; it's intricate tangled web of lives, packed against and on top and beneath, one another, and another and another.
It makes me thankful, as I close my eyes on this thanksgiving day, for the little pieces of life that fill up my heart. Thankful. For the long and lanky man who will climb into this strange bed with me in an hour, wrapping his arms around me. A man, who since entering my life, has utterly changed it. Challenging in a million tiny and quiet ways, what it means to be loved. Thankful doesn't feel like a deep enough word.
I am so thankful for my dog, Fly. Thankful. For my absurdly beautiful and human friends. People who inspire me, vehemently and who I feel so blessed to love, full out.
I am thankful for my family, both blood and chosen. For the challenges, support and love they have shown me, but also for the places in me that are now strong, reinforced, like steel because of them. I am thankful for meaningful work. For words that are my own to put down on paper. For characters that come alive and dance with their own sweet desires before my very eyes.
I am thankful for our little house and our sweet shared life in Denver.
But, I am so unbearably grateful for the many varied and unhurried ways I hear and feel God. Within the tangled web of moments that is my life, when I feel the tidal wave of overwhelm or love, approaching. I am grateful I can reach out and up with my words and whisper to myself: Surrender. Surrender. And I am thankful that when I do I can feel it. Like a warm current carrying me; like kind, callused hands guiding me, holding me, loving me. I am so incredibly and deeply grateful for this. Thank you.
I am thankful for this world, with all our messy and beautiful and broken and healed hearts in it. I am thankful for the mountains and for New York City. And I am thankful for this cat, now asleep next to me on this strangers bed.