‘Help me! I’m lost in The Ramble!’ My mind screams. But no one can hear my desperate, hungry thoughts. ‘Help me!’ I mime as I think the words. Again, my cognitive cry is inaudible and does nothing to attract the attention of fellow wanderers in Central Park’s overgrown gardens. I wipe my sweaty palms on my dress, swap my bag from one shoulder to the other and squint each way up a diverging path. Where it breaks through the canopy the sun sears my bare shoulders red, my long, tangled hair clings to my clammy neck. ‘Please, somebody, how do I get out of here?’ I ask no one, a timid tourist, too scared to speak to strangers. Tears sting my eyes as my gait escalates from casual to frantic. ‘Why did I ever come here?’ I moan in my mind, ‘I’m not cut out for travel.’ As I walk in the direction of what I think sounds like traffic, a sinister man approaches. ‘Please don’t let him talk to me,’ I plead with the universe. He comes closer, and closer, before reaching out to me… and handing me a camera. In broken English he asks me to take a photo of him with his kids, who I didn’t see standing behind him. I sigh heavily with relief, take the picture with shaking hands and hope he checks it then asks someone else to take another. Feeling weepy, I throw myself down on the nearest bench and try to slow my breathing. I may have only been ‘lost’ in The Ramble for up to five, and no more than eight minutes – but I’ve been carrying, and resisting, a Levain Bakery cookie for close to twenty-five. ‘I just want this cookie so – OMG squirrel!’ Momentarily distracted by exotic, foreign vermin, me juggle cookie, iced tea and bag, scrambling to get a picture of the Disney rodent. Too late. Cookie steals my attention back from the absconding squirrel and I reflect on our journey. After disembarking at the wrong subway station (it’s my thing) and walking three long, hot Upper West Side blocks, I finally made it to Levain. Or heavain, if you will. The tiny basement bakery was packed, I felt awkward and rushed so ordered only one: the dark chocolate peanut butter chip. I clutched it to my chest and scurried away. I covered the same long, hot blocks to get back to Central Park, looking for a quiet patch of grass in this giant city where I could sit and savour my precious. Then came The Ramble. And here I am all alone, sweating, afraid and barely managing to resist me cookie. The suspense is unbearable; me want the cookie. I feel a second wind, I feel a wave of hunger, convincingly dressed as determination. Me grab cookie and stride with purpose. I follow paths up rock stairs, dusty tracks, through the undergrowth and past a deserted go-kart track until I see it. Through the trees I see lawn, scattered with families and groups of friends, toddlers toddling and tourists touristing. My pace quickens, my heart races as I push through the shrubs and burst into the field like a loon let loose. I circle and circle and circle, an anxious cat settling, and, finally, I sit. Before arse touches grass I’ve taken my first bite and it is glorious. How do they get the little blobs of peanut butter so evenly spread through the dough? Sticky, salty flavour-bombs. Cookie’s thin crust is al dente and begging to be bitten, it’s chocolate guts all at once fluffy and moist and dense. Me love this cookie. Me forget me very long journey and me wish me bought more.


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