There was (and is still) a stone bridge there that reached over a creek. A bridge that one had to assume had been there for as long as the creek had. Or, at the very least, not long after. And one could easily mistake (well, one with poorer vision, could easily mistake) the bridge as being a natural wonder. The rocks were stacked so perfectly, so eloquently, that it seemed as though the bridge simply emerged from the ground on its own. Long ago, it had been a seed of gravel and it rose above the Earth and over the creek.
The carve marks of the blocks and the little ornate fixture on top gave it away that it was manmade. But, by whom, had been lost with time. Or, at least, lost under a pile of names and numbers and stacks of pages in a library among libraries. There also remained (and still remains) the possibility that a description of the bridge's origin and the name of its creator lay somewhere so obvious that Allister had not seen it. Perhaps, even right there in Central Park. But, Allister hoped not.
Allister liked for things so perfectly placed to be a mystery. It left more and also left less to so many. Some would see the bridge and be transfixed (as Allister was), would be lost in its presence and would look for answers. And some would see it and simply cross it or walk beneath it (for you could then, and can still now, also walk beneath it) and the bridge would merge so seamlessly into the park that there was no difference. And, either way, the bridge would pass along, over, and into history.
The stream beneath the bridge ran (and still runs), small and clear. And, when Allister came at the right time of day (and if you did the same now), the stream that ran on top of the bridge was large, parasoled, and fedora-ed. Made of people strolling (Perhaps, today the stream on top of the bridge would be more fluorescent and spandex-ed. Made of joggers and bikers).
And Allister breathed there.
He took in the two streams (the strolling and walking stream above the the trickling stream below), took in the bridge (that, though manmade, grew from the Earth), took in the park (that grew large and green in the middle of a giant city). By that bridge, over that trickling stream, even in the heart of a bustling and always-busy metropolis, there was (and still is) clarity.
We get lost so easily. We build such enormous structures and we want our names permanently engraved on such tiny things. We boil things down so small that we cannot see the meaning anymore. And we make our own meaning and want our name on that. We make heaven ours and we make it tiny and far away.
And Allister breathed out and thought that he did not want his heaven to be so far away.
In fact, he had one more favorite place in New York City.
It was a small place between the downtown and uptown subway tracks. There was a little pond or puddle of water there. And a dusted, hazy beam of light that fell from above. All around that little pond in that small place between the downtown and uptown tracks, fallen leaves had found there way past the sidewalk grates and scattered. And they scattered in the truest sense of the word-where there was no pattern and the mix was so intricate that you could not tell if the leaves had taken the shape of the ground or the ground had taken the shape of the leaves or whether they had gone and made their own form altogether. A new form. An amber form. A form that absorbed what warmth it got from the sun and spread it just a little further.
And a thought had occurred to Allister there, too.
He wanted to live there. And not in the homeless, vagabond sense. But, he wanted to live there. And he wanted to find and be near people who would hear him say, “I want to live here,” and not ask why, not want to know more, not think that he was joking, not think that he wanted to start a charmingly playful conversation. But, people who would hear him say, “I want to live here,” and who would take the time to look and see the little pond between the tracks and the scattered ground of leaves; and simply understand.
People who would simply say, “Me too.”