Tuesday, November 9, 2010

At home in my home town

I got so comfortable in my home town, I decided to stay another day.

Maybe this was from moving into my comfort zone on the upper east side, where Jeanne's apartment is. In any case, Sunday after breakfast I went uptown, stopping for a while at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then heading down to the Walking Store, where I was looking for comfortable walking shoes.

Somehow I walked out with a pair of black boots. Jeanne, my guiding light for everything fashionable, approved. "Boots are in this year," she said. Purchase validated.

Yesterday my cousin Joanne brought bagels and coffee over. We ate in Jeanne's window-lined apartment overlooking Third Avenue. Later I had lunch with Mary, an old friend from my summers in Atlantic Beach (Long Island), and Harriet, also from the beach and a friend of my parents'.

I had planned to catch a train after lunch, but then it occurred to me that I didn't need to rush. I love my kids dearly, and my recent initiation into the rank of empty-nesters hit me hard. But it is as people said it would be: I enjoy the freedom from my day-to-day responsibilities as a mother. Because I have wonderful dog-sitters who will keep Maddie as long as I want (they would actually keep her longer), I can stay as long as I please.

It was cold and windy yesterday in New York, so I bundled up for the rest of my day. I dated myself by telling Ben I would take the Lexington Avenue IRT down to the Strand Bookstore at Union Square. He didn't know what I was talking about. He said he only knows it as the 4, 5 and 6. (Same train, newer nomenclature.) Whatever, it's still the Lexington Avenue local, which is the one system I know well.

Before going underground, I walked down Lexington for a while, stopping at a small corner jewelry store that reminded me of Lynne's Speciality shop, the jewelry store that my mother and grandmother owned at 86th and Lexington. An elderly man in a yarmulka waited on me. I bought an affordable black watchband that the man put on for me. In addition, the other salesperson cleaned my ring.

Because it was so affordable, the watchband canceled the splurge on the boots (go figure that one out.)

Taking the subway, I tried to fit in with everyone else. This worked most of the time, except for when I didn't swipe my Metrocard fast enough and I walked into a turnstile that didn't turn. The young man behind me took the Metrocard, and, telling me I hadn't swiped it fast enough, took it from me and did it correctly.

I took the subway to The Strand, where I spent about an hour wandering around looking at books, tons of them. I picked up a copy of "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running," a memoir by the novelist Haruki Murakami.

Throughout my wanderings, I kept seeing an image of Jill Clayburgh in Paul Mazursky's 1978 film of "An Unmarried Woman." After being left by her husband and feeling like her life has ended, she meets an independent-minded painter played by Alan Bates. At the end of the movie she strikes out on her own, maneuvering his huge painting down a windy New York street, having gone from turmoil to triumph.

Clayburgh, who was 66, died on Friday of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia after battling it for 21 years.

When I first heard she had died, it was in the elevator at the Marriott Marquis over the weekend. My friends and I wondered about her cause of death, and a man in the elevator said it was leukemia.

That made me catch my breath. It always happens when someone dies of leukemia, a reminder (as if I didn't already know) that it can be a killer. When I learned more, I discovered that it was a different kind of leukemia. But still.

Then I thought hey, this isn't about me, it's about her. It's about the loss of a beautiful and talented actress.

The sun came out today. I'm going for a walk/run around the Central Park reservoir with Ben. And then, alas, I have to pack my stuff and drag it on out of here.


Susan C said...

I'm really enjoying reading about your adventures in NYC.

I'm reading After Dark by Muakami. I'd love to read his running memoir.

Ann said...

I have a similar reaction when I hear bout leukemia. I think it's something that's been burned into our DNA. So glad you took an extra day for yourself. The trip sounded like it was just what you needed.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Runderful-Woman,

Yes! You still can and do go home to the heart/h again...

Was great seeing you...


Nelle said...

I didn't know that she had passed. I always enjoyed her acting very much. Glad you got the boots, they will keep you warm and stylish. I love New York. Glad you had such a nice trip.