Posted by: Nancy | November 18, 2009

Vignettes from New York City

Three scenes from a weekend in New York City:

My husband and I step into an elevator in a spectacular building near Central Park. There’s a statuesque blonde already in, and we affirm that we are going from the 12th floor to the lobby.

At the next floor, a man in a business suit enters, and stands to the right, facing the doors, after the usual courtesy acknowledgement to the rest of us. The elevator stops at 10, then 9, then 8 — and we all notice that suddenly, every floor will be a stop.

“Did you do that?” he sternly asks the blonde. She’s a tiny bit confused, but no, there must be something wrong with the elevator.

Until I notice that our businessman has been leaning against the control panel on the right side of the elevator wall. It was his doing!

He sheepishly apologized and we laughed at every floor.

*         *          *          *           *

Saturday night, McSorleys Tavern.

It’s packed to the seams and there’s a line outside. There are four of us, two couples, and we manage to squeeze in at a communal table in the back of the back room.

Suddenly, the burly barkeep with the lovely gentle Irish face puts his hand on the shoulder of the man at the end of our table. He rises and in one quick step, the barkeep is standing on the chair and has commanded the attention of the entire bar. “This gent’s got something to say,” he announces, and steps down.

The bar goes silent.

The man has a quick speech, pointing to his sweetheart next to him, announcing that the time had come, after 30 years of friendship for something new. He fell to his knees and offered her a diamond ring. “Will you marry me?” he asked, to an eruption of cheers and singing and cameras flashing all around.

She nodded joyously, put the ring on and kissed him. The crowd sang “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole,” and then “Ole, Ole.” We were all standing around them, cheering and applauding. I admit it — once again, McSorley’s brought tears to my eyes.

*         *          *          *           *

It’s Sunday in Central Park. After a grey and wet weekend, the sun is bursting through the gloom and it feels like half the city has turned out for a stroll in the park. Or a run, a bike ride, some boating, dancing, ice skating, rollerblading, rock climbing — you name it.

The performance artists are out en masse. We are all part of the grand canvas.

There’s a lady standing in the grass, looking askance, holding a long leash. At the end of the leash, her white cat sits obstinately unmoving.

There’s the young man in the rowboat, not doing a very good job of impressing his date. She sits ramrod straight, uncertain where to look, while the young man tries not to flail too badly and works hard to get the rowboat under control.

There are at least three brides and at least three entourages of photographers and bridesmaids and groomsmen traipsing about, selecting romantic backdrops for their wedding day photos.

There are happy dogs everywhere. There’s a small ecosystem in one patch, not far from the lake, where there’s a beautiful ginko tree that is still fully green. It just wasn’t ready to turn yellow and drop its leaves yet.

It felt like a celebration, everywhere. And it was just an ordinary day, with people … living.

The whole place gave me hope, for all of us.

I love New York.

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