I am going to tell something that happened twenty years ago, far away from my house in Buenos Aires. It was January in New York. Everything was cold, snow, and more cold. The sky was beautifully blue with no clouds, but the majestic sun was not heating, as if not being there. I had been strolling around the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, looking at iPhones, iMacs, iPads, iPods and many other devices starting with “i” until feeling dizzy. It was crowded with people, everyone was talking at the same time causing some sort of ordered chaos or chaotic order, as you may prefer. The air was scarce and, together with the fact that English was not a language I understood very well, I felt as if I were from another planet.
It was getting dark in the restless northern city. I went out of the underground full of tempting articles to get some fresh air. I thought of going to the Central Park which was barely a few feet away crossing the avenue. I had already walked round it several times and always liked it; it was the perfect place to get the air and space I needed at that moment. In a few minutes, I found myself on the banks of a beautiful lake observing a stone bridge reflecting the last light of the day.
Walking around that beautiful park was not difficult at all, even though there are a couple of roads full of cars inside. Paths were winding, going up and down; there were little and huge lakes, beautiful bridges, a great number of trees of all kinds, fountains with monuments, sculptures, and rocky formations… and everything was tinged with the magic tone of night. Every single object in the park, either natural or created by men, turned into an unmistakable part of that magic at night. The cold weather was not ruining the landscape; magic would happen when the lights of the lamps turned on, still with the last rays of light from the sun.
In a few minutes, the night and its darkness took over the entire place. A patrol car drove pass me on the path. The Central Park of those days had nothing to do with that of the 70s and 80s, when cruising, murders and rapes occurred after midnight.
In that very moment, a black cat crossed my path. I had never believed in superstitions, but I got shocked by the way it looked at me. It was a wild look, tense, as if demanding something, but in a bad way, with a sense of desperation. I followed it, for no other reason than curiosity. The cat realized because he turned around the entire time as if it were making sure I was chasing him. I walked behind it for a long time. The cat led me, with a very firm step, towards the lake and we arrived at its banks. The faint lights of the lamps were intensified by the opened sky still emanating some light on the great lake and by the lights of the buildings surrounding it from west and east. At that moment something that seemed really marvelous happened: the cat dove into the water of the lake and skillfully began to swim. Cats never do that. I gaped at it, astonished and incredulous. I was standing behind a little railing from where the land descended to the bank of the lake. It would not be hard to follow it, but in spite of being interested, I was not in the mood to get into the frozen water.
The cat looked back searching for me. Yes, searching for me. It meowed and I understood that he wanted me to follow it. However, the cold was so intense that I could have never done it, so I refused and waved goodbye with my hand.