New York

‘I Hailed a Cab at My Hotel Near Central Park to Go to 47th Street’

Nice Ride

Dear Diary:

It was a beautiful, sunny morning in June, and I was visiting New York City from Italy for business.

I hailed a cab at my hotel near Central Park to go to 47th Street. The cabby had his windows open, and off we sailed down Fifth Avenue. I remember skyscrapers, blue sky and a big, bold sun filling the cab.

The driver was probably in his 60s and in a cheery, chatty mood, which led to some friendly banter between us. He was from Russia, and I spoke a little Russian, so I think it was a nice ride for both of us.

Suddenly, he opened his car door when we stopped at a red light, jumped out of the cab and ran toward the crowded sidewalk.

I couldn’t see him anywhere. I crept to the edge of my seat and looked at the red light, fearing it would turn green. Then I looked into the rearview mirror, worried about the cars coming up behind us.

The cab continued to idle, and I still couldn’t find the driver. Then, there was an opening among the pedestrians, and I saw him hugging and kissing a woman about the same age as him.

He ran back and hopped into the cab just before the light turned green.

“It’s the first time in 35 years that I’ve seen my wife while I was working,” he said.

And off we sailed again.

— Mary DeNike

The Stranger in the Middle Seat

Dear Diary:

red eye
he was six-foot-four with broad shoulders
wedged between me and the large woman at the window
I am six feet, overweight, and he was already nodding off
(I guessed Ambien)
“You gonna sleep?” he mumbled, and I said,
“You betcha”
“This will work”— he raised the arm rest
“I’ll be the big spoon”
we passed out
like two
big pups

— S.R. Smith

Jury Duty

Dear Diary:

In May 1983, I reluctantly reported for jury duty at the courthouse on Centre Street in Lower Manhattan with hundreds of other people.

Eventually, I was seated for a civil trial with five other jurors. During a lunch break, I decided to go to J&R Music World. To my surprise, the juror seated next to me asked if he could come along.

We chatted briefly during the outing and then returned to the courthouse afterward.

At the end of the week, the case was resolved, and we were free to go. As we made our way outside, the juror seated next to me asked if I wanted to have lunch. I said yes, and we walked to the Cloister Cafe on Ninth Street.

The next week we had our first dinner date at Patrissy’s in Little Italy. We have now been happily married for almost 36 years.

You just never know.

— Ellen Colton

It Is

Dear Diary:

It is:

leaving your apartment, speed walking to the most isolated, desolate part of the park without a second of hesitation after a breakup. the first time, second, third.

your friend telling you she’s done the same, like clockwork, with every piece of bad news or heartbreak she’s had thrust on her.

the breeze in your face, in your hair, on your skin, when you bike down the hill and past the lake. knowing that you’ll push through another lap, up that damn hill, just to feel the wind coming down again.

getting sweaty in a tank top, basking in the sun on a thin blanket on a hot day in July, rotating restlessly every few minutes like a kebab on a grill. thanking the heavens for the ever-so-slight breeze coming through the trees.

the quiet evening walks in August when the sun has just gone down, the camps have ended and the lamps have just turned on.

the night you walked a silly boy thinking he’d stumbled into the best first date of his life to the park to overhear a concert and kiss him on the grass, even though it was just so you could feel physically close to someone you loved on the other side of the fence. the night that made you laugh, cry and roll your eyes at how dumb life can be.

wondering where else in your life you’ll fall in love with a space like this, where else you’ll retreat for breath, air, perspective.

— Madi Himelfarb

Tools of the Trade

Dear Diary:

I was on a packed downtown No. 4 train and nearly nose-to-nose with a window washer laden with all the tools of his trade: straps to secure him to window frames, a bucket, a sponge and a squeegee.

Our eyes met for a moment, and he cocked his head:

“As long as I’m here,” he said, “want me to clean your glasses?”

— William Schaller

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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