Sunday, October 25, 2009

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.


We stumbled on this perfect restaurant on West 17th -
just when we couldn't wait any longer to eat.


A little Belgian cafe - packed with brunchers on a Saturday.
On our way back from the museums.


Heading to the subway, I finally came across the Greenmarket at Union Square.
Even on this drizzly day. I love seeing the monolithic skyscrapers as the backdrop to this organic, down-home scene.

I'm back in nyc. We landed, I emerged from the womb of the airplane at LaGuardia and, within a moment, I started smiling to myself. I was home. I have been traveling between Minneapolis and New York for a year and two months. I had not really noticed that my fundamental state of mind was that I lived in Minneapolis and visited New York to see my husband. This time, New York felt like home. I have made the shift without really trying. I can do this trip in my sleep now, pack the bag, call the cab for the 5:45 a.m. pick up. Wearing just the right clothing as to make security easy, I board the plane, seeking the window seat in Aisle 10 or 12 - almost always. I put in my earplugs to din the roar, put my bottle of water in the pocket ahead of me, do my last minute texting to Lee - "on the plane - leaving on time - can't wait to see you. i love you." I usually text my children too. God forbid I crash and burn on the trip and never get to tell them I love them again.

So, anyway, I'm home. Now what? What do I do with this? I make money in Minneapolis and the love of my life is in New York. My heart is here now, too. I love the buildings. I have longed to live in an architectural ecosystem with elegant, classical buildings my whole life. And I do. I walked down my street, 81st, yesterday toward 5th avenue to catch a bus downtown. It was drizzling but warm, balmy. The townhouses along 81st couldn't be more beautiful, upright and graceful. Some limestone, some red brick. Most with glossy front doors with beautiful old worn brass hardware. Then, of course, as we approach 5th Avenue at 81st Street, we are greeted by the massive Metropolitan Museum of Art - a veritable ship of limestone set on the sea of green that is Central park. Columns paying tribute to Roman ruins, the closest we get in this country to that scale and grandeur. I am happy here. I am happy feeling small in this place, an observer of the diversity. On the bus a couple sat behind us speaking in that lilting language that Lee and I so love - Italian. Trying my best to pick up their conversation, but mostly just tickled that people who speak Italian inhabit this place next to me. As do people who speak Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian, Hebrew and on and on and on.

Speaking of Hebrew, on Friday, I was at the local jeweler to get a chain for my grandmother's locket. It is obviously run by a Jewish family. When I enter, the language is unfamiliar to me. A pair of men, Hasidic Jews, I think, are there speaking with one of the owners, perhaps. They are laughing and joyful and teasing, it seems. I am doing business to the side with another clerk. Suddenly, the two men begin to dance in a circle and sing in this language I do not know. They are laughing and clapping while they dance. This is a very small shop - their twirling is like the dervishes - held close. I just shake my head. Where am I? How did I get here? I am smiling - big smiling.

The clerk explained that these men come once a week - perhaps to sell their finds to the jeweler, who deals in antique jewelry as well as new. He told me how wonderful they are - he speaks to them in Hebrew (I asked, "Is that Hebrew or Yiddish?") and I walk away with my gold chain and a heart full of happiness.

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. After all this time that I have wanted to live in a place like this, I am home.

Postlude: I just looked up the word "Hasidic" to see if I was spelling it correctly. Now, I don't know a thing about them, but on Wikipedia, this is what I read: Hasidut, meaning "piety") is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith. These men sure had it down.

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