So, it’s seven days into September and this one’s been lovely and good so far. And that’s important – because I’ve had at least a couple of Septembers that have left me wrecked. One in the late 90’s that ended in a personal upheaval of the heart and of course September of 2001 when I was, like the rest of the world, left fearful and lost.
Last year at this time I was in New York City, hoping to figure out what was missing from the story I was trying to tell in The Virgin Cure. I logged many hours at the library of the New York Historical Society (one of my favourite places on the planet!) I walked through the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my budding artist of a son, both of us awestruck over the J.M.W. Turner exhibit. I spent a beautiful evening with the NYC Buddhist community and people of all faiths setting lanterns afloat at the water’s edge.
Then, I walked the streets and sidewalks that had once been travelled by my great great grandmother in her work as a medical student and physician in the late 1800’s. As I went, I did my best to conjure up the memory of the women and children she served. I stood on Second Avenue, staring at the place where the Blackwell sister’s infirmary once was. I went to Third Avenue and Thirteenth Street, to see where Peter Stuyvesant’s great pear tree had lived for over 200 years. In those steps, on those streets that day I found my answer. I found the voice I’d been waiting for, the voice of my story, the voice of a little girl who wanted to become New York.