Thursday, February 26, 2009

it's up to you

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.

When RK and I do finally move back there, most of those people I knew will be gone and I'll have to start again.

But, I'm ready.


Anonymous said...

"Hiya honey!" (Dorothy?) She was one of my favorites. I see Tina only rarely. V, rarely. Although I have befriended Cheech who grew up on carmine street. Did you know of him? His dog Wolfie was a puppy same time Loki was and they used to play on the street and Cheech would say, "Knock him out!" to Loki and then call his dog a big wuss. Saw Gita about 5 months ago. All she could talk about was her cat Peachy and did I know where it was. Me and Tony talk about the weather.
Hurry up and move back already.

Kaari Marie said...

Hey Mikey -
I need a night at Carmine Street...Suzanne are you in? Thanks for always hosting the party that Moll and I need when we land - it's amazing that you are still there and keeping the fire lit!!


Anonymous said...

Stop already...that talk about moving back to New're driving me crazy! Mom

Bonbon Oiseau said...

you're amazing...i love that photo as seems that the old timers are harder and harder to find mol...just back from paris and jim said to's nice to see older know my (faux) grandmother lived on thompson st near houston--there arew only a few old timers left on her building...she said to me once what's happend to the village? this used to be a neighborhood! now it's just filled with restaurants...