I love to come here in the winter, frost ornamenting the lit-up gingerbread houses lining the street, size 4 skates scraping hesitantly against the ice. It helped, of course, that this river reminded me of someone I once knew, once loved. One of the many people I've left behind in my life, his face is fading a little more each year. I still remember his eyes, though, those sparkling blue eyes that could make my knees weak from one look across the crowded hospital.
I've visited this spot on January 12th every year for three long years, my own quiet acknowledgment for the people I left behind while fleeing to New York City. So much happened in those first two years of residency, it's been hard to adjust to my recently turned mediocre life. It's funny, the idea that the city that never sleeps tamed me.
Lately I've been trying to work up the courage to use my mother's old skates, a beautiful, tattered piece of her more lighthearted past, but I can't quite bring myself to mortify myself in front of perfect strangers. The image of me making my way shakily across the frozen river reminds me of my drunken stupors back in Seattle, and my expression turns somber as I remember the cause of those tequila nights a lifetime ago at Joe's.
My hair whips around my face, the biting cold finally forcing me to retreat back to my beat-up Volvo, the only thing I could afford on my limited teaching salary. Giving up surgery with Seattle was a decision that had regret eating away at the back of my mind ever since. I raise my glove clad hands up to my face, blowing on them for warmth as I flip through the radio stations, trying to find a song that fits my mood. There is no song, no lyrics that can describe my life right now, just an ex-doctor posing as a high school English teacher in one of the most adventurous, captivating, entrancing cities in the world. I'm surprised I've lasted as long as I have, in my 5th floor apartment in Brooklyn, a fourth of the size of my house in Seattle. I still can't bring myself to sell it, no matter how tight money becomes. After all, George and Izzie still need a place to live.
I look in the mirror every night and I'm still amazed at the unrecognizable woman I've become, a shadow of the confident intern I once was. I guess I didn't realize just how much I had back then, a fabulous job, caring boyfriend, loyal friends. I miss that, and recently I've begun to figure out just how much.
Sometimes I catch myself nicknaming my fellow teachers and my students, suddenly feeling homesick for Christina, or I look down at the dismal microwave dinner in my left hand and long for one of Izzie's muffins. The moments were fleeting, though, glimpses into a time that no longer exists. This past year, those moments have started to become more frequent; instead of the sharp pangs of nostalgia I now have a constant dull ache.
Neither nicknames nor muffins, however, could compare to the emotions that a simple ferryboat painting could evoke; the knot in my stomach that only seems to grow, whenever I think of Derek Shepard.