Yesterday I planned my escape. I considered provisions, distance, and how pissed Ben would be if I did something to his car. In the end, I realized the only truly important thing was that I end up alone somewhere.
I survived the drive through Bed-Stuy and Williamsburg, over the bridge, through Chinatown and up FDR. While I was making my way through the outskirts of the Bronx, I saw the promise of trees. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed and relieved by the sight of something beyond the range of a subway entrance.
As I moved farther and farther North of the city, something about the roads change. Or something about the way I was driving on them. They felt free and exciting, delightfully treacherous. I was moving fast and enjoying it, and suddenly I found myself considering death. How devastatingly poetic it would be if I died in an accident, driving my boyfriends car while he was out of the country. I checked myself, realizing the thought was morbid. I tried to distract myself by focusing on the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s crappy new song.
I passed White Plains, Pleasantville, and Peakskill. All the while, the landscape morphed: residential developments, then open space, and finally dense packs of trees. At certain points, the Hudson river peaked between branches, and I started noticing mountains climbing around me.
When I reached Cold Spring, I’d almost made it. I decided to park and walk around for a bit, not realizing I’d been driving for close to two hours.
I got lunch at a bar and grill that was empty with the exception of myself, a pair of middle aged women at the window, and an old guy snoozing over his pint glass at the bar. My waitress, Aberdeen, was in her 50s or 60s, wore all black, and had a cheeky grin. She set me up with a menu and water and left me alone for a good 60 seconds before asking, “Alright doll, what’ll it be today?” She said “today” like I was a regular of the place. I appreciated that.
I ordered a beer and a sandwich, and for the first time in memory didn’t ask for salad instead of french fries. Licking ketchup and salt from my fingertips, I questioned my avoidance of fries for the last five years.
When I finished, Aberdeen packed the remnant sandwich bits in a box, and I headed back towards the car. I drove farther North for a few miles, saw the parking lot off to the left, and settled into one of the spots.
Without even taking off my sweatshirt, I grabbed my backpack and ploughed towards the trailhead. After about a mile, without time for breaks up the steady incline, I make it to my destination: the ruins of the Cornish Estate Mansion.
Among the toppled rubble, and the rustle of leaves and birdsong, I finally found what I’d been looking for: the blissful calm that comes with being alone.