I’ve been living in New York for a few months now and missing my father immensely. He died in January 2008.
He was South African, so I spent big chunks of my childhood in Cape Town. We lived in London and went to Europe a lot together, so those landscapes make me think of him. But New York holds nothing of him: no road he used to live on, no favorite restaurant we loved or park we walked in together, no sense of knowing that comes from navigating a place with a parent.
We underestimate physical imprints in our lives, the beauty in almost mundane daily memories.
I knew I had to find a way to integrate him into my new life in Manhattan for it to really settle into my bones. And, so, I spent a day taking him along to all my newly discovered haunts to show him what my new life looks like: We went to the East Village and my favorite street in the city to look in at the apothecaries and art shops. Then, we took a long and meandering walk along the Hudson and rested at a particular spot that always gives me goosebumps because you can see The Statue of Liberty so clearly. We mooched around Soho and The West Village and then took the train uptown to Central Park.
It felt wonderful to have him at the forefront of my mind; the journey moved me to be more deliberately present than I am in my day-to-day life. This allowed me to fully demonstrate the myriad kaleidoscopic treats I knew he would have loved, especially to experience with me.
Maybe it’s the contrast of this and any other achingly cramped metropolis with a tangible expansiveness that draws creative minds from all corners of the globe, but I think we are in the age of reinterpreting traditions.
Death is our most taboo subject, eliciting our most feared emotions, and yet it’s also our only real certainty. Something dies every day in our lives, whether it be big, small or barely noticeable. I think if we can walk with death, then we can plant new seeds of growth that can sit alongside it, rhythmically and intentionally. I learned that when I decided to take this day with my past, but also wholly embrace my present.