1. In New York City, inside Central Park on the path through the woods, you dropped my hand and didn’t pick it up again. Later you never called and I forgot your name, lost your number when I changed phones, apartments, states.
2. On the subway, the seat next to me was empty and then a man stumbled on at the Bleeker street station, smelling of booze and urine and urban decay. He took the empty seat next to me. I wanted to get up and move. But that seemed wrong so I stayed, only one more stop anyway. I’ve always wanted the courage to be kinder than I am most days.
3. A book, the title I cannot remember, about a woman who is the daughter of God, the sister of Jesus and she lives in New York City and she visits God, who is a sponge in the ocean off Long Island or maybe Atlantic City. I bought it at The Strand and found myself in its pages—lost and wandering. Then left it on a bench in Washington Square Park on my lunch break.
4. The desire to fly. It grows the higher you climb inside the stacks of the Elmer Holmes Bobst library. I stare down at the black and white tiles, Escher-like tessellations and suddenly think how beautiful a stream of garnet or crimson would be traveling across its surface. I did not realize it then, but later I will be grateful I did not jump that day.
5. The day I walked Sixth Street from the Washington Square subway stop all the way to Central Park without speaking to a single soul except the Irish guy at the bar near Bryant Park and West 43rd. He sold me a Dos Equis and gave me shots of vodka and we shared stories about home, family and the things we misplace when we migrate.
6. God at The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park and the rooms and rooms of medieval art that I hadn’t expected and didn’t like. Christ on the Cross hanging in the Fuentidueña Apse with his questioning eyes following me as I moved through the chapel, until I grew hot and blushed under his knowing gaze.
7. Confidence. At the Nuyorican Poets Café on a Wednesday night while sipping a glass of water because my throat has gone so dry I cannot speak and realize that these are poets, this woman with braids stacked upon her head like cairns slamming wisdoms like drum beats against your wire-taut brain. Because these are writers, these are everything you thought you would be, could be, but aren’t and its best to get up now, slide quietly around the full tables and out the smoky entrance and take the D train back to your shared flat on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, pack a suitcase and book a flight home to Bama because you will never hurl words with such brazen poise and erudite originality.
Jamie shares her inspiration for “Lost and Found”:
“Lost and Found” is an ode to my college years in New York City. The subway, the fresh, clean smell of Central Park in spring, Shakespeare & Co books, Washington Square Park, hot coffee and bagels bought from street vendors. I loved every second of my life there but it came with a cost. Only years later would I realize how much the experience of living in New York City changed me, how much I lost and what I gained.
“Lost and Found” was first published in and was second place winner in Versification Zine’s Mosh Pit CNF Contest 2021.
Jamie Etheridge has writing in Essay Daily, X-R-A-Y Lit, Reckon Review, JMWW Journal, Identity Theory, Bending Genres and elsewhere. Her flash fiction, “Ways of Karst”, won the Fractured Lit Anthology II Prize 2022, judged by Deesha Philyaw. Jamie was a finalist for the Kenyon Review Developmental Edit Fellowship (CNF, 2021). She is a CNF editorial assistant for CRAFT Literary & tweets at @LeScribbler.
Header photo by Charlotte Hamrick