We spent almost the entire night talking about new york city. All through dinner, all through the walk home, after-dinner drinks. We must've brought up a thousand different restaurants: our favorite falafal place, the only spot to get an amazing bagel, where our favorite slice is from, eating after midnight, steak and fries at Raoul's. Oh, new york, new york: I miss you. We also talked about the relationships we had with the shop owners and the bodega guys, and the little old ladies in Father Demo's Square. Those are relationships I think about often, have tried to gain here, and miss dearly in their absence. They were like no other.
I befriended a lot of "old timers" in the city. I figured they held the key to the past. The told me stories of how things were better, safer, when the mafia ran the west village, or how this silly little cel phone shop used to be the best speakeasy in the neighborhood. I remember one woman in particular, Ruth. We met in Washington Square Park. She was sitting next to me and some of my friends when she spontaneously joined in our conversation. I don't remember exactly what is what about...something on the topic of relationships with friends. Anyway, she piped in her two cents and next thing I know, we're all involved in this big ole conversation. I enjoyed her so much, we made a plan to meet there the next day at the same time. Eventually, really not much later, we started meeting at her apartment on University and 16th.
I have some really fantastic photos of her that I just tried to find to post here...but to no avail. That little excursion of photo finding, from what seems like 'my past life', set me off track for about an hour. I had little idea how many photographs I have from those years in NYC-- none of which are categorized very well.
We'd sit in her apartment that housed her entire life, her husband dead and gone, her kids never keeping in touch anymore, talking about everything. She wanted to know every little detail of my daily life and I wanted to hear about new york the way it used to be, the way only a very old woman who was born and raised there could tell me...and, eventually, we too grew apart. It was a sad ending, but a really beautiful memory.
There were a lot of older people in the city that I had brief, but memorable, encounters with over all those years. A lot of people think of nyc as a lonely place to live, but, in fact, if you put yourself out there, there's more relationships to be had than you can shake a stick at.
an installation at the Whitney. click on image to read. borrowed from a new favorite.
But, I'm ready.