Thursday, October 27, 2005

Good Byes

It’s 3 in the morning and I have been awake in my bed making lists of people I want to see today in New York, people I want to say good-bye to in person. I’m cleaning the apartment out today.

Arthur, who used to own the second-hand book store on West 4th street but now works for the man who bought it from him.

Rhonda, who runs the most perfect neighborhood Italian restaurant in the world, the restaurant that I must have spent thousands of hours and dollars in over the last ten years, the restaurant where we sat almost every night for a year and planned the ill-fated film that brought our relationship down and the restaurant a few years later where the new we held our wedding dinner. Rhonda, I hope you are in today.

Ping, I know you are no longer at the Chinese laundry down the street from my apartment (it’s still MY apartment for another four days), I know your heart finally retired you but I would so like to tell you goodbye and thank you for all the rush jobs you did on my clothes when I was about to get on a plane for some last minute job. Thank you for the beautiful sweater you gave to my son when he was one year old and for waving to us every time we walked past your window.

Humdee and Sam at the Deli … I could not begin to count the bagels and tuna fish sandwiches you have made for me, or the lentil soup that Sam makes every Wednesday. Thank you for ordering the case of Animal crackers we gave away as souvenirs at the opening of the film. Thank you for always remembering how I like my coffee and for always having a smile on your face when I walked in.

Ramon, the super of the building on the corner, who was probably as excited as anyone when he saw us walking down the street with His Holiness in the basket when we got home from St. Vincent’s and who has had something nice to say every day since.

Jesus at the cigar shop, the lady behind the counter at the Spanish breakfast stand, the one-armed homeless man who lives in our neighborhood and always greets me politely when I see him, whether or not I have anything to give him that day, the old couple on the block who wave from their chairs in the garden as we walk by, Jason the hair cutter on the corner, the girls at the Chinese restaurant near the playground, the lady at the bookstore on Bleaker street who always knows just the right thing to recommend and who told me about “A Winter’s Tale” …
The list goes on and the longer I sit here thinking about it the farther back in time I go … to the first neighborhood I lived in when I moved to New York in the late 1970’s … I’ve forgotten their names now but not their kindness or wit or intensity or the sounds of their voices, the accents from the old worlds of Cuba and Germany and others … the immigrants who settled in New York after WWII and whose numbers were dwindling when I arrived … I can’t list them this morning but I will never forget them, any of them.


Anonymous lillian said...

saying goodbye is so important... but sooo painful ! hang in there!

3:00 AM  
Anonymous Belinda said...

this post is nothing but a wonderful tribute to your "heimat". It is so perfectly descriptive of the true mixture of cultures that are found around every corner in New York.

I know you'll miss it, but it's not like you won't ever go back eh? Plus, the moving will give you an opportunity to make a whole bunch of new friends, just in a different language :)

You'll love cologne I think.

Best of luck with your last few days and have a safe trip!!!

9:55 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

sounds like a cast from a Seinfeld episode!:)
Good Luck!!

5:55 PM  
Blogger mama jens said...


its so strange to leave one life for another. what a surreal space. sometimes i don't know what my reasons are for wanting to move. i guess it is a combination of just never being satisfied and therefore always have to look for something "better" AND the fact that i feel that life is just too short to do one thing and that it is really a great thing to experience different realities.

i wish you all the best in köln.

11:23 PM  

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