As anyone knows who has been reading this blog this past month, I am deeply in love with a Canadian named John. Because he will be arriving on Tuesday to visit me for the first time and see NYC for the first time, I am falling in love with NYC in a new-old way all over again.
As anyone who's read this blog since I started it knows, I love NYC passionately. But now I am re-seeing it, remembering when I first encountered it and how much I loved it then, too, even though I could not even wrap my mind around what I was seeing and experiencing. I am also seeing, with renewed intensity all the little things I love - the color combinations, open and closed spaces and sights and sounds of the subway for instance. The combination of beauty and grit, the quiet dignity of most of the subway workers and all the people that make this city hum. The way light shines off glass, brick, trees, water, people, cars and store fronts. The rhythm of the city, the way it has a beat always, the way you can look up, even somewhere you've lived for a while and see something new, hear something new but it all fits into the beat of a city that never stops...except for the moments it does - those gorgeous grace notes, when there is suddenly no traffic, a kind of pause, like the moment between the in and out breath...and then it continues.
Things that John has noticed while we were Skyping that I sometimes tune out - the rhythm of the beat of the steam heat radiators when they are clanging - the sirens that come in loud - the salsa from the street, and suchlike...
But there are the many practical grace notes of NYC. This week I want to write a paean to one that is close to my heart and is saving my uninsured ass: the free and low cost health clinics. The one I have signed up for recently and at which I have had the most astonishing set of experiences is the William F. Ryan Center. If you are uninsured or indeed have insurance they take, please avail yourself of this incredibly well-run facility. This is a clinic where not only are you treated like a human being, all the doctors I have had are great and the level of care is Very high. All the staff are polite and appointments happen on time or very close thereto. Because my income is low, for each appointment I pay $35. That's right: $35. One was a comprehensive physical, including blood tests. Another was an eye appointment (with in depth testing). The last was dental, including at least 14 X-rays, a precise diagnosis and excellent cleaning. I have been referred to gynecological services at a partner hospital for specialist treatment and have a follow up medical appointment with my lovely female doctor in six weeks. Each visit, I repeat: $35. OK, if it was the NHS it would be free, but for the U.S. and for top flight care, this is astonishing.
So between John who continues to astonish me with his love, generosity and care (not only in words but many concrete actions) and NYC itself with its many places someone like me without insurance or money can get care (including: Harlem Breast Clinic: mammography & pap smears - where when I needed a second test, I was sent - for free - to Sloan Kettering and the HHC low cost hospital care plan, which means I have access to emergency room and hospital care for very low rates), I feel so Taken Care Of on both a very deep emotional, spiritual level but also in practical, physical terms as well.
The world is conspiring to allow me to exhale. This showed on my blood pressure checks, which were perfect. I am so much calmer than I have been in ages, if ever. I am way happier than I've ever been in my life, ever. But it's a calm happy, a deep joy, that pervades most every interaction I have with people. This can include conflict, too, because I am feeling less like eating shit these days, so if someone is pissing me off, they get to know that. In the nicest possible way of course (!) This makes me feel happier, too. Because as the old saying goes: if you don't want to be a doormat, get up off the floor.
So as I prepare for the love of my life to visit the city that I love, I am feeling pretty damn fine. I am hoping John will feel at home here as I do. He believes he will and since we share so much in terms of temperament and perspective, I am hoping that is the case. It took me so long to get back here and I don't relish the idea of leaving any time soon. The fact remains, ever since I lived in NYC the first time (1982-83 working for the now-defunct WPA Theater as their production manager at the wise old age of 19), I've felt like I was in exile whenever I lived anywhere else. You either love this city more than anyplace else in the world or you don't. I am one of the former.
Finally, I am overjoyed to be living in Inwood, an area of NYC I did not know existed until I moved back in October 2011. This is the best place I have ever lived in the city. I would never trade the wild mix of nature and city, its edginess (as in being on the top tip of the island), its Lack of Hipsters (though there are some signs of a few in the new cafe near the 207th St. stop - the laptop-latte crowd with the thick glasses - you know the kind - but so far they seem harmless enough...) and its still affordable rents...Long may it continue!
I love New York!
I love John, too!
So, putting these two loves of my life together will be marvelous. Assuming we can work out all the many details in order to make this happen, I will not only feel at home, as I always have in NYC, but I will be able to create with my beloved Canadian a Home where my heart, soul, mind and body can rest. This will be a first. I am delighted that it looks like the place this most marvelous event in my life ever will happen is my beloved New York City. Which is why when I see John for the first time ever at a place as strange as Port Authority Bus Terminal (!), the first thing I am going to say to him in the midst of that fluorescent-lit chaos too early on a Tuesday morning is: welcome home.
Welcome to my blog..
"We struggle with dream figures and our blows fall on living faces." Maurice Merleau-Ponty
When I started this blog in 2011, I was in a time of transition in my life between many identities - that of Artistic Director of a company (Apocryphal Theatre) to independent writer/director/artist/teacher and also between family identity, as I discover a new family that my grandfather's name change at the request of his boss in WWII hid from view - a huge Hungarian-Slovak contingent I met in 2011. Please note in light of this the irony of the name of my recently-disbanded theatre company. This particular transition probably began in the one month period (Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010) in which I received a PhD, my 20 year old cat died on my father's birthday and then my father, who I barely knew, died too. I was with him when he died and nothing has been the same since. This blog is tracing the more conscious elements of this journey and attempt to fill in the blanks. I'm also writing a book about my grandmothers that features too. I'd be delighted if you joined me. (Please note if you are joining mid-route, that I assume knowledge of earlier posts in later posts, so it may be better to start at the beginning for the all singing, all dancing fun-fair ride.) In October 2011, I moved back NYC after living in London for 8 years and separated from my now ex-husband, which means unless you want your life upended entirely don't start a blog called Somewhere in Transition. In November 2011, I adopted a rescue cat named Ugo. He is lovely. As of January 2012, I began teaching an acting class at Hunter College, which is where one of my grandmothers received a scholarship to study acting, but her parents would not let her go. All things come round…I began to think it may be time to stop thinking of my life in transition when in June 2012 my stepfather Tom suddenly died. Now back in the U.S. for a bit, I notice, too, my writing is more overtly political, no longer concerned about being an expat opining about a country not my own. I moved to my own apartment in August 2012 and am a very happy resident of Inwood on the top tip of Manhattan where the skunks and the egrets roam in the last old growth forest on the island.
I am now transitioning into being married again with a new surname (Barclay-Morton). John is transitioning from Canada to NYC and as of June 2014 has a green card. So transition continues, but now from sad to happy, from loss to love...from a sense of alienation to a sense of being at home in the world.
As of September 2013 I started teaching writing (composition and rhetoric) as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, which I have discovered I love with an almost irrational passion. So blessed for the opportunity and hope to find a more permanent job doing same.
I worked full time on the book thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign in May 2014 and completed it at two residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Wisdom House in summer 2015. I have done some revisions and am shopping it around to agents and publishers now, along with having written a rough draft of a new book and some other projects.
Not sure when transition ends, if it ever does. As the saying goes, the only difference between a sad ending and a happy ending is where you stop rolling the film.
For professional information, publications, etc., go to my linked in profile and website for Barclay Morton Editorial & Design. My Twitter account is @wilhelminapitfa. You can find me on Facebook under my full name Julia Lee Barclay-Morton. More about my grandmothers' book: The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick & Jani
Recently, I started a website Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, which has stories about many people's grandmothers. Please check it out. I will be blogging there, too, now.