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Noo Yawk recap

Home to reality – a snowstorm, Rob Ford not apologizing and being, still, the butt of Jon Stewart’s jokes, my tenant Carol upstairs, sick with flu. No red wine here when I got in at 6.30 p.m. Monday! Had to go down the street to procure a bottle from dear neighbour Richard. The crabby cat, almost glad to see me for a second or two. Home.

I’ve not told you everything about my trip, especially the not so great stuff, the difficulties with family, and believe me, there are difficulties. What I will carry forever is the joy, especially at the end of both Shakespeare shows when the urbane New York audiences erupted into raucous cheers, leaping to their feet – I’ve never seen anything like it. At the first curtain call, Mark Rylance, who had just played the exhausting role of Richard III with another show that night, bounced into the air himself, jumping up and down with glee like a small boy. A moment of communion between audience and actors, the whole thing, bliss.

After seeing the Vermeers and other faves at the Frick – the Velasquez portrait of hideous Philip of Spain reminded me of laughing about him in the Prado with Bruce – I was about to leave when I saw another gallery, one I’ve never seen before, a long windowed corridor with a special exhibition of clocks, brilliant, ornate gold and jewelled clocks from the 1700’s.

At Sotheby’s, noticing the wine up for auction, including bottles of Cheval Blanc, my uncle Edgar’s favourite, and Hermitage, my father’s. My brother there, moaning with pleasure as he looked at the bottles, just as my father would have.

At the Zwirmer gallery downtown, where we did not leave the painting, the young woman with us asked if we wanted to see the installation. People were lined up outside in the freezing cold, but we were ushered in in front of everyone. The artist is a Japanese octagenarian who’d created a wonderland in the darkness, rows of coloured sparkling lights increased to infinity by mirrors and water on the floor. For the first time in many years, I wanted to be stoned. Far out, groovy, man.

At the Belasco Theatre, in keeping with the Globe company’s “just like in Shakespeare’s time” theme, there were rough wooden seats right on the stage. And in those seats at “Twelfth Night” I noticed the comic John Hodgman, a favourite of Jon Stewart’s, and his young daughter. Many of the actors stopped to banter with him as they got into costume before the show. His girl, I’m happy to say, was about as engaged as any nine year old would be – that is, somewhat.

And more, and so much more. Mostly the conversations – with the man I asked directions of in the subway, who turned out to have just retired from twenty years with the U.N. in Ukraine – “How we’d like to be there now, to give support to our Ukrainian friends!” With the man during the theatre intermission who told me how to get cheap seats through tdf.org. With Donna the saleslady at Bloomingdale’s, with the woman I sat next to at “Twelfth Night” who was there with her Scottish stepmother and who didn’t stop knitting through the entire show (unlike the man next to me at “Richard III,” who fell asleep as the first actor spoke and didn’t awake till the intermission. Sheesh.) Getting the addresses of my Israeli relatives from Lola, for the next time I’m in Tel Aviv.

Now, at home, a pair of good boots wait in the closet for the snow to go away, and a reproduction of Vermeer’s girl with her spectacular earring and of the little goldfinch sit on my office shelf. And right now, there’s a pair of pretty shoes, carefully stretched yesterday by my shoetrees, on my tiny little feet. I will not go hiking in them, no. But they’re beautiful and wearable and size 9 1/2. Welcome home, princess.

P.S. Full disclosure alert: there’s now a tiny tear in the left shoe, made perhaps by my tiny toes. I will wear the shoes nonetheless. Only God is perfect.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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