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New York Day One

Friday July 1. An hour and a half to get
from Toronto to Newark; two and a half hours to get from the Newark airport to
the Upper East Side of Manhattan. By the time I got to my cousin’s, I was ready
to go home.
At Penn Station, where the train from the
airport arrives, I tried to get the subway but ended up bewildered, looking for
the E train that was there on the map but not there in reality – and the subway
was incredibly hot. So I walked out into the morass of New York, to make my
way, with suitcase, east along impassable 34th Street to 3rd
Avenue to get the bus uptown. Crowds on the street, massive, overwhelming
crowds, muggy oppressive heat, and 3rd Avenue was gridlock. A nice
lady – so New York! – chatted gaily, telling me about twelve blocks up, the
street would clear. It took three-quarters of an hour for the bus to crawl 40
blocks uptown. At one point, the driver said over the P.A., “ 59th
is next, if we can ever get there.” There was a black man or woman in a
glittery turban stretched out asleep on the seat nearby, and a mother and
daughter chattering in Parisian French who got off at Bloomingdale’s.
Voila, enfin – Cousin Ted’s at 77th
and 3rd, where I have been staying since my Uncle Edgar, who lived at 94th
and Central Park West, died in 1997. Ted has a weekend house in Northport where
his spouse Henry lives, so this two-bedroom apartment is empty every weekend.
Cousin Ted has worked for Sotheby’s, he knows about antiques, and he and Henry
tour the world looking for antiquities and treasure. The apartment is jammed
with priceless acquisitions – hundreds of pre-Colombian pottery and Chinese
burial figures, petrified dinosaur eggs, 17th century British drinking
glasses – though most of the collection is in Northport.
OMG, I am glad not to be out there. It has
been heavy and threatening all day and finally the sky has exploded, a teeming
rain with thunder. Trying to manoeuver around NYC in a bad rainstorm … the only
thing worse is snow. Once when I was visiting and 7 months pregnant, my husband
and I were desperate to get to the airport in a snowstorm, and when a cab
finally stopped, a man nearly shoved me to the ground to get in first. And then
the driver threatened to dump us in the middle of Central Park when he realized
we were going to La Guardia and not to Kennedy.
Anyway, I’m safely here. There’s no wifi –
no wifi! – so I am writing this in Word and will post when I go at some point to
the little Italian café around the corner.

The narrowest skyscraper in the world.

I went up 3rd to Eli’s, a
gourmet takeout place, which was a mistake – I bought staples and a few treats,
cold soup, baked fish, milk and delicious bread – and a jar of organic peanut
butter which turned out, when I got to the cash, to cost $12. I spent $63 on a
few staples. But at home, the soup – cold carrot and lime – was superb, with a
glass of the Pinot I bought at the wine store on the corner, and blueberries
from the Puerto Rican fruit stand across the street. And now I’m sitting here
waiting for the rain to stop, or at least die down, so I can go to the theatre.
10.30 p.m. Never have I been so grateful
for a cab. I started walking after the play tonight, heading back to 3rd
Avenue, but after much walking today decided I was tired and the Times Square
area was too insane, so I stuck out my hand as a cab went by and he stopped.
Miracle! Four minutes after I got in, the heavens opened, lightning, downpour.
By the time I got out, I’d put on my rain poncho and opened my umbrella and then I ran
the quarter block to Ted’s, but even so, I was soaked. Thank you, God – that
cab was heaven sent. Times Square in a thunderstorm – let’s not even think
about it.

What I do want to think about is the
wonderful show I saw tonight: Fun Home,
based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel. A new genre continues to bloom –
the autobiographical musical, done by the same team that did Carolyn or Change, the brilliant musical
about Tony Kushner’s childhood. And this is a brilliant musical about Alison
Bechdel’s. Deeply moving, the story of a sensitive young woman growing up in a
family damaged by its big secret – that Dad, the father of 3 kids, is gay. And
Alison is too. It’s tender, funny, beautifully directed and acted, and



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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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