Having a good sense of direction has always been a blessing, path-finding through the erratic streets of London is easy but put me in a logical grid like New York and I am lost. The only way I can find my way around is to use Central Park like the North Star. I orientate myself from there. Below it, above it, to the left or right. The first time I visited was one cold January on the way back from a conference in Hawaii. For two nights I shared a room with a friend in the glorious Algonquin Hotel and met another Kaufmann she knew who hailed from Chile. Looking at the two Kaufmanns astride the rocks in Central Park I recall that I was so proud of that coat, buying it on a trip to London from my first earnings working in Belgium and thinking it so dashing to be flouncing around in a man’s coat.
Several years passed before I returned and began to find my way around the city. During the year I spent living in Boston I caught the Amtrak train, passing along the frozen or watery East Coast, depending on the season. Rosa was already in my head, she was like a muse dictating notes to me every day as I walked along the tree-lined avenues of Cambridge, Mass. to and from work. From the first time her voice came to me, Rosa was speaking in a pink bathroom in New York. And then Rosa was pushed to the side by life. When I started writing again I turned to The Cushite, the other novel that also had its genesis in 1985 in the USA. On my next visit, I walked and travelled the length and breadth of the Manhattan, from the National Museum of the American Indian on Bowling Green in the south up into Harlem, and on to the Bronx searching for the texture and material to give life to my work. Only when I had finished The Cushite (it is still lurking in my bottom drawer) did I finally navigate my way back to Rosa.