Evening is closing in on a Friday on Bleecker Street. That means the noise level climbs and the crowds are dense. We face the backs of other brownstones and so we don't quite hear it yet, but around midnight, the noise intensifies and travels even to the hinterlands. And I like it. Why stay on Bleecker Street if you want night quiet?
Ed’s dozing already. That’s predictable. I put him through a walking workout today: nearly six hours of crisscrossing Manhattan.
In many ways it was a idyllic and appropriately gentle ending to our ten days here. It had all the requisite elements of closure.
Breakfast, just before noon, is just kitty corner to where we are staying. (Our building is the corner one; we are on the fourth floor.)
The day is summerlike and beautiful and we sit at one of those tables in the doorway, with the full effect of the breeze outside, but without the glaring sun. Is there a better way to indulge in an hour of pure leisure?
Our waiter tells us we must have the brunch special – eggs, smoked salmon, salad, a mimosa and coffee. Ed’s dislike of coffee gains us a third mimosa – one that is very very light on the orange juice. I put in a little peach schnapps for extra flavor – he informs us.
It is a protracted meal. I look up and notice that Ed's gaze is mellower. Almost like it is back home.
After, we turn northwards, passing through Washington Square where the mood is of a summer week-end.
On 18th, off of 5th, we find Adorama – my photo supplies store of choice, even when I am in Wisconsin. They’ll give you a good price. On everything.
I want to get a new filter and I want to ask about the new Sony SLR-like camera that is about to hit the market (it’s small!) and we have some good conversations about possibly trading in my clunky SLR for the new one when it appears (maybe as soon as next week). I’m also enjoying the commotion of a thriving photography store. Photo shops in Madison are dead, no fun at all. I'm remembering too well how terrific it was to hang out at a photography store back in my late teens, when I would learn just by listening to others talk about equipment.
We’re walking east, crossing 5th toward Gramercy Park (if there is a justification for the existence of a locked, private park in Manhattan, I’d like to hear it).
This is, we're reminded, the neighborhood where TR Roosevelt was born and where he spent his childhood. We spot a plaque on a brownstone and as we pause to read it, someone comes out and asks if we want to join in on a free tour of the premises.
Inside, we are captivated by Roosevelt trivia. As we read descriptions and ask questions, I'm very much aware of the fact that slowly, I'm allowing myself to focus on something other than the trial. I see tunnel’s end light. We will, eventually, leave this mess behind.
But not yet. At least, not entirely.
Exiting the tiny museum, we note that we are very close to where the primary “bad guy” from Ed’s trial is currently living. We’d tossed around the idea of visiting him. To talk. To communicate something. (Perhaps the futility of this line of litigation?) To suggest that there are better persons (his own lawyers!) for him to sue.
I remind Ed that last time they had a face to face encounter nearly ten years ago, the bad guy was inclined to get physical. I weighed the possibility of repeated aggression and decided that we were strong enough to get away. He, after all, walks with a cane now.
At the entrance of the apartment building we study the list of tenants. Not there. The super comes out and asks who we’re be looking for. Ed tells him. The super, recognizing the family resemblance, sends us up to the correct apartment. Ed knocks. No answer. I wait by the elevator, keeping the doors open. No, wait. That's a dumb retreat. I let them shut. Ed knocks again. Nothing.
We leave a message with the super (the bad guy does not own a phone and hasn't, to Ed's knowledge, an email address) and head out.
Maybe it’s a good thing that no meeting occurred. Still, one has to wonder whether some magic set of words could have now, after all that was already said in court, made an impression.
We belong to the band of the forever hopeful.
Our walk on this day weaves through the blocks of east Manhattan. Here, I lived here, I point out the building to Ed, but I know that I’ve done this before. I'm doing it for all the times you tell me, again and again, where you play weekly volleyball.
We cross over to the west side. Past Rockefeller Center, past 6th Avenue (oh! Here we are! Ed’s attorneys’ offices! Truly, all roads lead to the trial...), past Radio City Music Hall where the Dalai Lama is appearing this week, and where a very aggressive Statute of Liberty is collecting bucks for photo ops.
... due west to the Hudson River, where, for me, exactly fifty years ago my American adventure began. Stepping off the boat, I looked up on the confusing, chaotic city that would be home for at least six of my childhood years. And then I promptly threw up. (It was warm, the air was thick, and the drive across Manhattan was too much for me. In fact, I probably hadn’t seen the inside of a car more than a handful of times in my entire seven years of life.)
The piers along Hudson River. They aren't the entryways for boats from the old country anymore. Indeed, even in the sixties, when I sailed across the Atlantic for the first time, very few were immigrating from Europe by boat. Planes were just beginning to push ocean liners aside.
[For circumstantial reasons of dock repairs elsewhere, there actually is a boat today at the piers – the Queen Mary 2. (Only slightly reminiscent of my old boat – the Queen Elizabeth.)]
We turn south now as we begin our walk along the fairly recently completed Hudson River walkway.
It’s warm and lovely and New York seems almost gentle.
It’s a long hike back, but this is our final review of the city, as it feels on this unusually toasty May day in 2010. Not bad. Not bad at all.
We eat dinner at Fish. Of course we do. At the bar. Two platters of oysters, with glasses of wine, $8 each, just like ten days ago. And a small lobster roll.
And cookies from the Italian bakery.
By five in the morning, we’re walking to the subway, to catch the bus to the airport, to make the connection to Chicago, from where we’ll take the bus back to Madison.