For as long as I can remember, I’ve told my closest friends and family that if I were to ever fall into a coma, the surefire way to bring me out of it would be to blast my favorite rock songs. I even had a list. It got longer as the years went on.
Tonight, as I began to fall asleep, I knew there would be a better way.
Whisper in my ear and tell me about my favorite stoop. The sidewalk. Call out the names of the dogs walking up and down it. Brew some Columbian coffee in the room and remind me of the coffee shop on the corner. Tell me the name of my favorite barista. The one who is always so kind to me. Then tell me again, because I can’t ever remember his name. Touch my lips with some banana pudding from Billy’s Bakery. Pump some chocolate egg cream from Chelsea Diner into my IV. Play a recording of sirens and people speaking every language. Loudly. Honk horns. Often. Holler at me to stop at the bike lanes. Play more recordings of squealing brakes and the rush of the subway underfoot.
Remind me how the Empire State Building peeks at me from all different points in the city. How she pops up unexpectedly when I come out of a pharmacy or a coffee house, or when I round a corner and turn up an avenue. Each view is different, and special. And how she lights up and blinks and flashes so I can see her at night. How she takes my breath away every time.
If it’s winter, wrap me in the scarf I bought from Chelsea Market. Turn the heat up, crowd people into my room, turn on some eclectic music and find that barista from Café Grumpy to sing random showtunes while calling out the espressos, cappuccinos, lattes and americanos as they are ready. Describe the skaters on the rink at Rockefeller Center, the Christmas Tree, the window displays at Saks and Macy’s. Tell me that it’s snowing, and then laugh about the giant piles of snow at the corner that begin white, but turn grey/black and produce odd pieces of trash and clothing as they melt. Toast me with bourbon and rub some on my lips. Get drunk in my room and tell jokes and stories. Laugh so much it hurts. Don’t leave without playing the soundtrack from Grease.
If it’s spring, open the window and let me hear the children playing on the playground at PS 11. Remind me of cats sunbathing on windowsills and Lula snoring during an afternoon nap. Conversations outside open windows that last all day and night. Describe the florescent shades of green the trees are turning. Tell me which restaurants have their tables outside, and read their menus to me. Bring flowers to the room to remind me of the wildflowers along the High Line. Spend an afternoon describing my favorite elevated park. Whisper in my ear to take a step to the right when I get to 17th street and look straight ahead. There, in the distance, is the Statue of Liberty. Take my hand to give her a wave before inviting me to sit and overlook 10th Avenue. Put watermelon juice on my tongue from the passage at 16th Street and pour water on my feet so I can dream about splashing while walking past children playing, and lovers sitting together on the sundeck and tourists snapping pictures of the river. Remind me to look at all the murals, old and new. Tell me about the artists. Describe the colors. It’s okay to cry when you give me news of a favorite piece that is gone.
If it’s summer, talk to me about walkabouts. Remind me that the breeze from the river makes it cooler on streets than avenues. Describe the architecture of the buildings on my route, and the flowers along my path. Steer me clear of tourists. Take me to the water’s edge. Walk me across the Brooklyn Bridge before sunset. Remind me how there are no bad views of the city. No ugly buildings. Talk to me about architects and history. Tell me about all the people milling about in the street after the sun goes down. Describe how the energy seems to build as the lights come on. Walk me back across the bridge toward the city, and let me stop along the way. Pausing to marvel at how different and beautiful it is at night. Hail a cab for me and let me open the window and lean my head back to catch the breeze and watch the streets zip by. Describe the buildings getting more and more familiar the closer we get to our street. The sounds of honking and music and voices. The smells, both good and bad, flooding my senses. Can you bring those into a hospital room I wonder? If not, drag me out and take me there. Put an A/C unit in my window and let it blow across my sheets to cool me off as I sleep. Continue to play voices and horns and sirens, but more muffled now.
If it’s autumn… whisper to me promises of Central Park ablaze with red and orange and gold. Describe what I have not yet seen. Gapstow Bridge, Bow Bridge, The Mall, The Pond… tell me about the leaves under my boots. Show me where Harry met Sally, and where Shopgirl cried. Where Billy Kramer learned to ride a bike. Where Ryan and Ali ice skated (while never saying they were sorry). Take me back to Strawberry Fields and describe how different it looks dressed up in fall foliage. Open a jar filled with crisp air that’s just come across the Hudson. Open the windows back up to let me hear the children’s voices and feel summer waving goodbye.
Curl up next to me and link your arm through mine. Promise me that if I open my eyes, it will all be there.
Even if I never open my eyes, I will live in the heaven you describe.