19 November, 2008


"New Yorkers are more likely to map the city according to their past relationships… You amputate whole neighborhoods as you move through relationships, because how else are you supposed to maintain your sanity? How else are you supposed to achieve the minimum distance required to get over somebody?"
- Ellen Shanman, EVERYTHING NICE

About a year and a half ago, I lived a life only a few blocks from where I live now. I tried to integrate myself into the neighborhood and stopping into the local shops was an easy way to get to know people... the bodega where I purchased overpriced Ben & Jerry's, the 99 cent store where I got cheap toilet paper that lasted for weeks, the newspaper shop where I'd pick up a coffee and a paper on my way to the subway. And there was the same, small, nice man there to greet me almost every morning. And he'd say, "Morning, beautiful". And I'd smile and ask for milk & sugar. And sometimes if I didn't have enough pocket change, he'd say "No worries".

But a few months after that, life moved me. And although my new home is only a few blocks away, almost all of the daily places I go to are different now. I have a new bodega - and they have overpriced Haggen Dazs instead. I use a Duane Reade instead of the 99 cent store - and although the TP isn't quite as cheap, they do have a much better selection. But I have yet to find a replacement for the good newspaper shop, and the Dunkin Donuts coffee isn't as sweet, and no one since has been as friendly to me as that small, nice man.

Yesterday I was craving a good crossword puzzle and a warm beverage. So I took the a-little-out-of-my-way route to the subway and the bell attached to the old newspaper shop door rang a welcome when I opened it. There was only one other person in line before me. So I grabbed my Daily News and waited. And when it was my turn, the same, small, nice man looked up and hesitated only a moment before saying, "Morning, beautiful. Haven't seen you in a long time."

And I nodded. And asked for milk & sugar. And felt some need to explain where I'd been, why I didn't come in anymore, what happened over this past year to change my path. But he didn't ask questions. And I didn't offer answers. We just smiled at each other. And I told him to keep the change. And he said to come back soon.

And I probably will.


  1. Very poignant and honest...reminds me of many days/nights in Chicago frequenting the "shop-around-the-corner"...and of course a couple pitstops here.

    Thank you for this. :-)

  2. i love this story. it makes me miss new york. i love reading your blog and checking in on all the wonderful things you are doing, reading, saying and thinking! lots of love to you! jen nevergole