Presley Kershaw, how have you been here six months already?
She asks this of herself on a Wednesday morning, when the steam from her locally brewed coffee mixes perfectly with the fog of breath in front of her.
The latter half of the year had flown by, painted with a mess of unwashed laundry and sleeping on her brother’s couch, of all places. A few weeks (“…a month max, I promise, Winston”) turned into a few months, a few months turned into half a year and somehow, New York had swallowed her whole.
New York. It wasn’t Stockholm or London or Berlin or Paris; it wasn’t one of the many cities she’d spent the better part of her gypsy life in over the past two years. And none of those cities were her sleepy-yet-bustling South Carolina hometown.
But New York is closest she’s ever felt to being home.
She settles in an uncomfortable chair not far from the new hotel Winston works at, hair tied haphazardly in a messy braid, body bound in a thick coat, a thick scarf, and fingerless gloves barely keeping her hands from freezing.
But she settles nonetheless because she is a girl with a guitar who has nothing better to do on a Wednesday morning than play. A gypsy-girl with a gypsy-life and a spot on her brother’s couch, playing guitar for passersby, reveling in The Moment. She’d become so enchanted with living in The Moment that the steam from her coffee and the fog from her breath seemed to have clouded her being able to see farther than a few hours into her future, much to the displeasure of her parents back home (“…how we raised you to become the equivalent of a homeless drifter is beyond me, dear, but we love you nonetheless…”).
Chord progressions on calloused, freezing fingers keep her living and breathing in a city that never sleeps. She’d play, play, play her days away, taking in the art and culture and vibrations of the city and just like Stockholm, and London, and Berlin, and Paris, she’d fall in love with people and places and things in this city that has swallowed her whole.
Like all the other cities before it, New York—in particular the Upper West Side in which she spends most of her days—has consumed her.
It continues to do so, turning those weeks into months, and months, and months. Because unlike all those other cities, here she has family. A brother-shaped anchor named Winston that keeps her fed and sheltered, and as much as she loved her gypsy life, it wasn’t always nearly as romantic as it seemed.
New York has the distinction of being both romantic and practical. Both comfort and excitement. New York City, this New York City, was the first place in a line of places that she truly wants to call home.