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THOUGHTS ON RETURNING FROM THE BIG APPLE
Our last morning in New York I was filled with joy at the thought of returning home. Nothing like going away, and absolutely nothing like returning. I had had a great time, and let me define what I mean by ‘great time,’ before I go on to other, related things. The brain wants to work in a meandering sort of way, like a river this morning, and I have unharnessed it and let it go its way.
Great. Ironically, I loved being warm inside in cold, cold New York. While it was 26 degrees outside, the apartment was 80 degrees inside. There was no way to turn down the temperature inside because the thermostat was set at 60. Payson informed me the warmth filtered in from the entire apartment complex. My experience of New York in terms of temperature: too cold outside, too warm, if not hot, inside. Can’t understand why energy cannot be better conserved. However, on really cold days, when the temperature inside fell, we turned on our fake electric fireplace. I have never liked them, but loved this one when I remembered how it saved me the labor of chopping wood, carrying it in, lighting and stoking the fire, the way we do in our Indian home, though there our wonderful staff does the work.
My great vacation is as much indoors as out, as much indulging the old and comfortable, as the new and strange. I do not like to exhaust myself on my vacation by sight seeing, and the cold prevented me from doing this even if I had wanted to. So, I got to have the perfect vacation where I planned to be out only for a few hours a day, five at the most. I had lazy mornings followed by two to three hours of work (made great headway!).
When I got cabin fever I looked outside the three windows we were privileged to have – when Payson told me we wouldn’t have a view, I had prepared myself for bricked windows and was pleasantly surprised. Just proves my conviction that to under expect is better than over expect. Though the few trees on the streets were bare of leaves, there were tons of people to watch, hurrying to work with their briefcases, mothers with strollers, people walking their dogs, poor people (the bottom feeders) collecting tin cans from garbage bags, and even a black man surreptitiously trying the handles of the parked cars on the street to see if any were open. And the day it snowed . . . I felt like a child watching it for the first time.
By the way, I do not mention bottom feeders with disdain. On the contrary, I think they perform a vital function in society. I am grateful to them for recycling that which unconscious people throw away to the detriment of our planet.
The cold outdoors: my experience reminded me of the winters at Kent State University during my college days, and I loved it. Because I knew I was only in it for brief spells, no more than a three or four block walk to the subway or bus, I enjoyed it after I figured out to button up my down jacket and unbutton it when I got on the subway or indoors. We walked to the Metropolitan Museum of Art – twice; to the Museum of Natural History – twice (only because a fire alarm chased us out the first time); we went to see a dance performance by Meredith Monk, a delightful play by Bread and Puppet Theatre (that Payson worked in and with for three years in his youth) called NOTHING IS NOT READY CIRCUS; ate sweet and sour pork chops (with other dishes) at China Town, drove to Riverdale with friends, had lunch with the writer Thomas Hoover and his partner, Karen Sunde (theatre personality) in the village, dinner at the Candle with friends, among other things. All in all, I would return to NY again, though not in the winter.
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