Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Where you go, I go."

Our initial plans for living in New York included staying there for five years and then finding a place where "we could grow old" and be close to our grandkids.   Five years flew by and we found ourselves agreeing to stay another year which turned into eighteen months.  There wasn't a day that I regretted that decision.  Early in June of this year,  after Paul had decided to retire from corporate life, Harvard called and offered him a teaching position at the Business School.  This had been a life long dream of his and was an exciting opportunity.  Returning to Boston for a third time seemed like a good plan.  I had always felt like I had left unfinished business in Boston.

We called the realtor who assured us that the market in New York is very slow during the summer and we shouldn't expect to sell our apartment until well after the Jewish Holidays in September.  Since the condo was in excellent condition and didn't need much work to prepare it for market, we decided to list it for a couple of weeks in July to see if we got any bites and then take it off the market until Rosh Hashanah.   We had purchased a home in Belmont and Paul could set up shop there and I would commute back and forth until the NYC condo sold.  Long story short, we had two offers in two weeks and accepted one offer and end of story.  Not having to leave the condo "staged" for future buyers we decided to pack up and leave, giving us only a week to say our good-byes.

My first farewell was with my older gentlemen friends who greeted me everyday on my way to and from the gym.  We hugged and they assured me that if Paul ever grew tired of me, they were ready to take me on.  Nice to have a back-up plan.  I then stopped in to see Mr. Tom who had been our dry cleaner for the past six years.  He was behind the counter when I walked in and I said I had come to say good-bye.  He immediately walked around the counter put his hands on my shoulders and said, "Miss Jan, is this move a good thing for you?"  When I told him of Paul's teaching job at HBS, Tom thought for a minute and said, "Oh, Harvard, now that is a very good thing."   We both cried as we shared a last hug.  Mr. Tom had sat by his window on Amsterdam and had seen me pass by sometimes multiple times in a day.  He had seen me dressed up, he had seen me in by work clothes, he had seen me with friends, and best of all, he had seen me with our children and grandchildren.  He had watched my life from his seat behind the counter,  and I knew I had been watched over.

We left many dear friends in the city, too many to name, but the best thing about friends is that you get to take them wherever you go.  They have touched our lives and will remain in our hearts forever.

There wasn't much time to say good-bye to my favorite neighborhoods or favorite places. Fortunately Paul and I had had the last round up on the carousel a few weeks before. We had ridden our bikes to the Ididor and Ida Straus memorial on Broadway Avenue. There is a beautiful small park in their memory. They were aboard the Titantic when it sunk. Isidor was offered a place on the lifeboat with his wife, but he refused when there were still women and children still needing to be rescued. Ida refused to leave her husband saying, "We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go." Her words were witnessed by several in lifeboat #8 and they were last seen standing arm and arm on the deck of the sinking ship. Such a romantic story and one we discovered one day as we were walking home from some errands. It was one of my favorite discoveries in our neighborhood.

The day we left, the doormen and porters lined up for hugs and we all said a tearful good-bye. We had shared a lot over the past 6 1/2 years. They will miss me for the Scooby Snacks and cookies I made for them every so often, but they will miss Paul because in their words, "he was like a father figure to them."

I still remember arriving in New York and wondering if I could ever learn to live there. I didn't know how to grocery shop there, carry dinner to families who needed a meal, transport items from Home Depot that were cumbersome, gather in enough supplies for expected house guests, find a repairman I could trust. I didn't know if I could learn to drive in the city. Turns out, I learned how to do all of these things and I loved it.

This will be my last post on Janhattan.  I am not sure I will begin a blog for Boston---Jassachusetts just doesn't have the same ring to it as Janhattan.  I loved living in New York  and there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't think to myself, " I can't believe I live in New York!"  Paul knew it was going to be hard for me to leave the city and offered to keep our apartment there so we could return for visits.  While I know he was serious, I knew that didn't make any economic sense.   And it was time to leave.  We have other adventures waiting for us.  I can't wait to discover what they might be.  

 And to my sweet husband who has taken me to some amazing places, "where you go, I go."  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Up a Steep and Very Narrow Stairway

Some of you may recognize this line from a song in "A Chorus Line".   It is the song a young girl sings about her passion for the ballet and the chorus goes like this:

"Up a steep and very narrow stairway 
To the voice like a metronome
Up a steep and very narrow stairway 
It wasn't paradise, it wasn't paradise,
It wasn't paradise, but it was home."

I am not sure I have found my home, but I did enter that steep and narrow stairway to Steps on Broadway.  This is a dance studio in our neighborhood that is frequented by dancers of all abilities who are looking to hone their talent.  I was looking to find mine.  I have started in the absolute beginner's tap class.  Just putting on tap shoes is an amazing experience.  Paul gave mine to me for Christmas and the only place I could try them out was in the garbage room.  It was still a thrill.
Last week I attended a class and was the first to arrive.  Four young men arrived shortly thereafter and then halfway through class, another woman showed up.  She had to be 75 and could barely walk.  But she had on her tap shoes and just shuffled around the room.  She couldn't even begin to keep up but she was home.

We learned many beginning steps and then the instructor had us put them all together so we had about a 16 count routine.  Then the last ten minutes of class we got in a circle and just followed the instructor around the room doing whatever he did.  At one point it was so joyful, I just wanted to shout out, "I am tapping!"   I am still very clumsy and awkward so it doesn't feel like home, but it does feel like paradise.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Neighborhood just got better

A year after we moved to New York the 2008 financial crisis hit and many stores in our neighborhood went out of business.   It has been exciting to see many of the empty store fronts return with viable businesses and what is more viable than a bakery?!  This little bakery is just one block from the house and sits next door to the Pinkberry which sits alongside the Starbucks, which sits next to the vegetarian place, which sits next to a small pizza place that makes a pretty good slice of white, which sits next to McDonalds.  Not fine dining, but a few choices when you want something easy and quick.  We actually don't frequent the McDonalds anymore.  We took Henry there and he threw up all night.  Seems like a pretty good reason never to return.  I stopped in for the "soft opening" of the Paris Baguette and was hoping for a baguette.  Turns out it is mostly croissants, turnovers, sliced breads, and sandwiches.  Maybe with the "hard opening" they will have the baguettes as long as your arm that you can slather with butter and eat all by yourself.

Friday, March 7, 2014

I'm back

I didn't really go anywhere, but I wanted to start blogging again.  My intent when I first started blogging was to capture all of the wonderful events and happenings in the city.  And that worked for a long time, but real life kind took over and while I hate to admit it,  happenings in the city didn't seem quite as unique to me anymore.  It was hard to know what to blog about.  I also didn't blog about one of the most important things to me and that is my family, unless they came to New York and we did New York things.  This new attempt at blogging will be less about just New York things and more about my real life.
Since moving to New York some pretty remarkable things have happened to our family.  Our youngest daughter got married and seven more grandchildren have been added to the mix with one more coming to us in July.   We have had four graduations, three from graduate school and one undergraduate.  One family moved from Charlotte to Denver, another family from Ann Arbor to Seattle, another family moved from Salt Lake City to Austin, and still another family recently moved from Austin to Portland.  That means we have children living in some of the greatest cities in the country---Denver, Portland, Seattle and Austin.
It has been my goal to visit every family, every quarter.  This means that sometimes a family will come to New York and sometimes I will fly out to see them.   I have managed to keep up the schedule and it has helped create wonderful memories with the grand children.
While we have been true to our pledge to do something every month that you can only do in New York, it has actually become more difficult as we have allowed "real life" determine our schedules.  Sometimes our unique New York thing might be as simple as walking to Levain bakery for a chocolate chip walnut cookie, or walking across a new path in Central Park, or finding a one of a kind shop in SoHo.  I think I have mentioned it before, but we have magnificent city views from our apartment and everyday, depending on the weather, how the sunlight hits a building, or how full the moon is, or how hard the wind is blowing, something unique can be seen on a daily basis by just looking out the windows.  Sometimes balloons float by and we are 29 stories above ground.
Let the 2014 blogging begin!

Monday, June 10, 2013

New York State of Mind

Someone asked me if Paul and I had managed to keep our pledge to do at least one unique New York event every month.  We have actually been pretty true to our commitment to take advantage of all the city has to offer.  Last night we walked along the Hudson River on the greenway----you can't do that just anywhere.   In the last few months we have attended a couple of Broadway shows, supported the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, I hosted several women for lunch including an artist who goes by the name of "ultra violet/Isabelle Dufresne" (google her sometime, she is fascinating;  and I could only have met her in NYC), visited Grand Central Station for it's 100th anniversary, took three of our grandsons to the American History Museum, shopped at the Brooklyn Flea Market, taken advantage of riding the Carousel in Central Park several times,

and so much more!  We have now been in the city over five years and it never gets old.  I discover new things everyday as I wonder around doing my errands and exploring.  I am sorry if I sound sappy (and alliterative) but I do love this amazing city.

Cabin Fever

I am not sure the photo is clear enough to give you the feeling of what we saw on one of the first nice days of spring.  This is Memorial Day weekend 2013 and after a rather harsh winter and many rainy spring days, we had a beautiful day in the city.   You can tell everyone had spring fever and cabin fever because they were sitting toe to toe in Sheep's Meadow on this first really beautiful day of Spring.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Human Nature

Paul has asked me a couple of times if I have seen the Stonehenge looking exhibit at Rock Center, but I haven't been down in that neck of the woods for a while.  Today I happened to be running some errands and had to cross through Rock Center and sure enough, there were nine, 16-20 foot human shaped stone figures that really did resemble Stonehenge.  It is an exhibit by the Swiss-born artist Ugo Rondinone.   The exhibit is titled "Human Nature" and I have been wondering all day why.  I guess that will give me something to think about over the next little while.