This is God

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I’m going back to New York in a couple of weeks. Not for forever this time. Not like the last time. Just a handful of days. I cannot picture them. I cannot picture myself there. I can only see who I was before, the person I was before I learnt everything I have now. I fear the unlearnt lessons will still be lingering in the same places. Maybe when I stare out across the Hudson and blur my eyes the city lights will become stars and I’ll have never left. Maybe I fear this the most.

I’ve been reading The Future of God by Deepak Chopra. A friend of mine saw me, she jokingly asked if I believed in God yet. We were in Sicily, on a balcony looking out to the Mediterranean Sea. She poked my sorest spot. I told her this. We went for a walk and had Bruschetta and lemon soda in a street-side cafe. I wanted to somehow justify my seeking. I’ve spent over a decade trying, I wanted to say. Desperately. On my phone I wrote a list… churches, teachers, ashrams, therapists, healers, books, classes, courses. It was dark when we walked back. See, I could’ve said, held the light of the screen up, I have proof. I told her some version of this. I did all these things and I’m still where I am.

Later she said sorry. I said thank you. I’m used to asking big questions, just not having answers for them.

I was with another of my friends a week later. We were walking along the Cornish coastline in the south of England. We found an old church with a beautiful graveyard. Inside there was a stack of community prayer books. We wrote our prayers in them. I read through the other people’s prayers. Pages and pages and pages of them. Sometimes I stubbornly entertain a fear that nothing matters. Here was a whole book of things that mattered. I can’t describe what I felt with each prayer I read. I won’t try to describe the late afternoon light over the cliffs as we left the church.

I’m practicing saying “This is God” when I feel something I know to be big and true but cannot describe it.

A friend of mine is living on a boat. Yesterday I asked him if he misses New York. He said he doesn’t really miss places. I said neither do I. I never used to go back to places I’ve been before.

I liked being back in London. I joked, said I’d been cheating with New York all these years, London still has my heart. I walked into the pub I worked at when I was twenty-one. A part of my novel is set there. I expected to see my protagonist, drunk on gin and talking shit, still dreaming of other places. I walked down the street to a coffee shop that was no longer there. The place where I first found out how badly it hurts when someone doesn’t love you back was gone.

I did miss Hawaii while I was away. My skin and hair missed the salt and humidity. I missed who I am here. After we landed on this tiny rock and as we were departing the plane the two European guys in front of me stopped on the runway to admire the stars. I won’t ever try to describe the brightness of the universe.