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New York New York

At one point, I said to myself, Never again! I found London crowded, but New York defies belief; not only are certain parts nearly impassable, but it’s sticky hot, the traffic is overwhelming, the garbage is monstrous, and everyone is very, very noisy.

But then I had dinner in a gorgeous room with my family and saw a brilliant play and zipped home on the subway and remembered why I love this city of my birth. So – confused as usual.

First, the landing at Newark Airport was much worse than it has ever been; their hideous president and his policies have made the immigration people even more suspicious and surly. The lineup was endless, and in the line I was in, the guy just decided to shut up shop and go for a coffee or something. Eventually he returned and when he got to me, he glared at my Canadian passport. “It says here you were born in the States. Have you renounced your citizenship?”

I wanted to say, No but I’d love to, but I just said No. So he sent me to the special room for suspicious people, because as a dual citizen, I am supposed to enter the country as an American. My American passport has expired, I told them, and I always travel as a Canadian, the country in which I’ve lived since I was 3 months old. They were very nice about it, no problem. In all my years of travel here, that has never happened before. Welcome to Trumpland.

I made it to my cousin’s, dumped my bag and set off to take care of business – TKTS in Times Square to see if I could get a ticket to the show I wanted to see – success, a half price orchestra seat for “A Doll’s House, Part 2.” I then slogged through a million Times Square tourists ogling the novelties on display there, including naked women with painted bodies, to the Music Box Theatre to pick up the tickets for “Dear Evan Hansen” tomorrow night, and as I entered the lobby, a woman shrieked, “That was Warren Beatty!” He and Annette Benning had just seen the matinee. “He looks terrific!” she said, and the woman with her said, “He looks old.”
“Well of course he looks old, he is old, but he looks good for his age,” she said. I missed him.
And then I went to the Belasco Theatre where Michael Moore is starting previews on Friday night for his show attacking Trump, and got a ticket for Saturday. A tiny island of sanity in the surreal circus that is this country right now. There was a small demonstration in Times Square against Trump’s transgender ban. “Trans rights are human rights,” they chanted, holding signs that said “Resist.” I joined them briefly, but with all the myriad things going wrong here right now, this is just one more.

I sat in the oasis of Bryant Park behind the library, watching the parade of humanity carrying disposable cups and yelling into cellphones, a fascinating diversity of humankind. Then went to meet Ted, my second cousin or first cousin once-removed, I forget which, at his club, the Century Club at 43rd and 5th, a gorgeous old building, incredibly quiet, cool, and calm with high-ceilinged rooms full of books. A wonderful place for people to sit and read or have drinks and dinner, as we did. Cousin Lori came in from Connecticut, where she lives part-time, posting daily pictures on FB of her early morning runs, kayaking, her enormous garden. But she also still has an apartment in Manhattan, so she goes back and forth. Her grandmother Belle was the sister of my grandfather Mike and Ted’s father Leo, 3 of the 7 Kaplan siblings. Family. I don’t have much, so these people are precious. And then Henry, Ted’s spouse, arrived, a dear dear man. He lives at their country house in Northport, Ted lives at his apartment at 77th and 3rd during the week, working at the family law firm Kaplan and Fox, and then on Thursday night goes to Northport for the weekend, where they have a beautiful house by the water and entertain lavishly.

So the Manhattan apartment is empty all weekend. Unless an indigent relative has arrived to occupy it. Hence – moi.

Ted and Henry went to see Bette Midler in “Hello, Dolly!”, Lori went to get her train back to Connecticut, and I went to “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” which is a stunning play, set 15 years after Ibsen’s original “Doll’s House,” dense with ideas about marriage, love, commitment, freedom, women’s rights … The tug between Nora’s need for autonomy and her daughter’s need for a mother – very moving, made me think about my own divorce. The best kind of theatre, I am sure this play will live long around the world. And then home on the new 2nd Avenue subway, a blessing, right from the insanity of Times Square to 72nd and 2nd.

On the way in from Newark, we passed the Dakota. I miss John Lennon. I miss my grandparents Nettie and Mike, Uncle Edgar, my New Yorker father, Bill and Chet, Leo and Hazel, Vera and Ben. NYC is full of ghosts. But at least Ted, Henry and Lori are here, and today, lunch with my father’s cousin Lola, who’s 94 and lives near here, and her daughter Patti, who also is coming in from Connecticut.

The air is foul. At one point, I wrote in my notebook, I wouldn’t condemn my worst enemy to live here. But today, I’ll see more relatives, go to a museum, see another brilliant work tonight. The city is a marvel, and I will stop whining.

 Home just before I left, a last view of tranquillity

The trans protest in Times Square

The graceful plane trees of Bryant Park, an oasis

 The iconic spire of the Chrysler Building

The noble lions of the New York Public Library

The gracious reading room of the Century Club

Sign in a side room.

And now, out into the madness.

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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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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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