LA TENDRESSE

Uncountable times have I gone over to the 25th Street flea market in the parking lot next to St. Sava’s church with the bust of Nikola Tesla out front. I've always admired the particularly beautiful juxtaposition of majestic and dissimilar buildings standing all around and behind the old church, including the Empire State Building. Never in any of those moments did I imagine what St. Sava’s might look like were it to catch fire, and last night it did, spectacularly. The fire looked like dragons, and in a few hours the church and all its quiet history was ruined. 


One day last fall I went into the church after the flea market. The doors were open and I sat in its dark mystery with the sunny day outside. And in January when I passed itwhitened and stillduring the big blizzard, I marveled at the way it looked in the snow and took a picture of it. Last night after finding out that St. Sava's had burned, I read about all of the struggles to raise the money for its repairs over the years, and about how its windows were blown out by anti communist terrorist bombs in the 1960s. I felt astonished at that; that such a thing had happened and I had not heard of it before. Which just reminded me of how little I really know about so much, about so much that is right here all around me, on these streets that I walk in all the time.


Today I had a doctor’s appointment downtown, and in the waiting room I saw people with very dramatic things wrong with them. There was one particular man called Petey who was completely stiff, like a light pole. He looked to be in his fifties somewhere, accompanied by a woman probably in her sixties. She put her hand on his back and called someone on her phone. “Hello?” She said. Then she said, “Hello, Sal? I’m here with Petey. Yeah, that’s right, but I wantidda check up on you. Here. Say hello to Petey.” She held out the phone and Petey leaned forward like the fire hydrant in front of my building that has been broken and leaning for weeks. Water is pooled in the base of the hydrant at the broken place, and every time I see it I wonder if I should go around the corner to the firehouse and let them know.

Petey spoke into the phone the woman was holding in front of his face. “Hey pal,” he said. “How ya doin? Yeah, I’m in the doctor’s office. You know I love you, right pal? You’re like a father to me.” The woman took the phone back then and said into it: “Now Sal, I want you to eat everything that’s on the plate for your lunch. And after you eat everything on the plate, then you can go to the piano. A’right?”

The doctor called me in then. She was supposed to have my blood test results but the mailroom was very slow, she said, so unfortunately she didn’t have them yet. She told me a few things about the MRI scan I’d had, mostly explaining how nerves in the spine can work or not work, very generally, it seemed, and she told me how terrible my insurance is. I had the MRI at night on a Sunday, and everything had felt eerie in the radiology department at such an odd time. The MRI machine was very loud inside. Some of the sounds it made had a sort of rhythmic, atonal monotony that made me feel as if I were trapped at a John Cage performance. How boring I’ve always found John Cage to be, I thought, lying there in the loud banging tube. How boring and tedious and claustrophobic, as boring as an MRI.

Today I was given a note to take to the file department, where they would make me a copy of the MRI reading. The file department was down in the basement, and the man and woman working there were much nicer than the doctor. The man told me it would take some time to make the copy, so perhaps I might take a walk. I told him I would walk uptown to look at the burned church, which both he and the woman had seen on the news. “Terrible,” the woman said. “If it is arson,” said the man, “God will most certainly punish whoever did it.”


I walked up Park Avenue to 25th Street and westward. The police had put up barricades around the shell of poor St. Sava’s. The street was full of quiet fire engines and in front of the ruined church I could see the bust of Nikola Tesla, unharmed, his head turned the way it always is to face Madison Park. The church looked like a war photograph. All that stone and brick. How could it burn? People wondered aloud about candles, or gasoline, if it had been done on purpose. Then there were people who walked along in pairs, talking, passing the church and its blown out windows without so much as a glance. A few feet away I saw Jack Hirschman, once the Poet Laureate of San Francisco, speaking into a phone. He was describing the ruined roof and the transparent quality of the shell. He turned and looked directly at me. “Jack,” I said. But he shook his head. He smiled and waved a finger to tell me he wasn’t Jack at all. “Someone else just mistook me for Jack Hirschman,” he said into the phone.


The Empire State Building stood back at a distance, her head full of mist, and never more somber. I walked back downtown. I thought of Sal, whoever and wherever he was, on the other end of the phone in the doctor’s office waiting room, the man for whom a piano waited, and I wondered if he had eaten his lunch the way he was supposed to.

Romy Ashby May 2, 2016

WINTER LIGHT

My feet were hurting me for a while, so I finally made an appointment to see a podiatrist. His office was on Park Avenue, and on the day of my appointment in the late afternoon, I saw Grand Central Station in the distance and the needle of the Chrysler Building sharper than ever, and I had the funny feeling of not being quite myself, but of playing the part of a lady going to a podiatrist on Park Avenue.

The doctor diagnosed me with something he called Manhattanitis. It has another name too, but that’s what he called it, and he said it comes from too much walking in the city. He gave me some inserts to put in my shoes that felt like putting an avocado pit under each of my feet. I said so to the nurse, who promised me that the feeling was normal and that it would go away, but I left not quite believing her.

While I was up in that neighborhood, I decided to look into the Scandinavia House, which I do every so often, and it always makes me feel good to go in and look at the Scandinavian people lunching in the café. Once inside, I learned that in their gallery upstairs was an exhibit of paintings by the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi, who I love very much. So I went up in the elevator and spent a long time just standing in awe before the paintings, stunned by the beauty and quiet grandeur of each one. Many of them I knew from a book that I have full of his pictures, but I’d had no idea that some of them were so large.

For a long time I sat on a bench in one of the gallery rooms and stared into the fog around St. Peter’s Church in Copenhagen: fog so true that I felt I could taste it. I looked at each of the quiet interiors, some with patches of cold sunlight on their floors, and had the thought I always have when looking at Hammershøi's paintings, which is that he somehow managed to paint the silence of those rooms in a way I’ve never seen anywhere else. And from the little card beside one of them I learned the beautiful Danish word for that sunlight: solskin.


Afterwards I started homeward in my strange-feeling shoes, full of the quiet majesty of the paintings, in the near-winter dusk on Park Avenue, thinking of the book of Hammershøi paintings at home and how I came to have it. It was years ago when I bought it at Skyline Books on 18th Street, long before it closed, from a girl working there who showed it to me.

I went into that bookshop at least once a week for years to browse and pet the shop cat and sometimes buy something, and into the 1990s I had them do book searches for me sometimes. I still remember two that I bought for my dad, books he wished for and was so glad to get: The Informer by Liam O’Flaherty, which he had seen as a movie in 1935, and The Small House Halfway Up in the Next Block, about the radio show Vic and Sade which was his favorite as a kid. When I took him to Skyline Books one day to browse the shelves (which he loved), my dad made a lot of loud huffing and puffing noises because he had Tourette’s Syndrome. But the guy behind the counter didn’t say anything to my dad about the noises the way some store clerks used to. It might have been because he was there with me, or because the guy behind the counter himself had a bad stutter.

The Hammershøi book was an extravagance. The day on which the girl showed it to me was to be her last day working at Skyline. She seemed sad when she told me so. The reason for her leaving the job, which she loved, was that she hadn’t been feeling well for some time—in her head, she said—so she had decided she would have to go back into the mental hospital. She was always such a serious and capable bookseller. It seemed to not make sense, but I believed her. On that day she told me she wanted to show me something she thought I would like especially, and she pulled from one of the shelves the big book of paintings. She didn’t try to make me buy it—none of them were ever pushy about that in there—she just wanted me to see it, and when I did I had to buy it. And I’ve never been sorry for that. I don’t remember the girl’s name, if I ever knew it, but I think of her every time I look at the book, and wonder whatever became of her. I miss Skyline Books every time I walk through that block of 18th Street where it used to be.

I crossed over to Fifth Avenue on my way home, and as I passed the Marble Collegiate Church at 29th Street I looked up at the rooster weathervane atop its steeple. I thought of St. Peter’s in Copenhagen in Hammershøi’s painting, with a rooster just like it on its own steeple, and felt comforted by the two roosters. There are moments during the daytime when the light is just right on Fifth Avenue, when the steeple of the Marble Collegiate Church and its rooster stand out beautifully against the Empire State Building behind it. And whenever I see it, I always wonder how many other people have noticed the rooster on that day. I’ll wonder about the person who put it there to begin with, and who made it. I went across 29th Street as it grew dark, and I realized as I neared home that podiatrist’s nurse had been right. The avocado pits had disappeared and my feet felt a thousand times better already.

Romy Ashby
December 27, 2015

Copyright Romy Ashby
Image of St. Peter's Church by Vilhelm Hammershøi 
The show is up at Scandinavia House well into February 2016

OVER BY THE RIVER

One evening not long ago I went to the rent guidelines board meeting at Cooper Union and watched the excitement as they froze one-year rents for the first time ever. Everyone cheered and it felt hopeful even though every person in that great hall knows that for people who don’t own their apartments, any illusion of certainty about keeping a home for life in this city is over.

I remember when Michael Bloomberg forced his run for a third term as mayor on the people of New York and the way he managed to win. He spent a huge sum of money on his campaign, a lot of it going to pay for the big pictures of himself that showed up in every mailbox in the city almost every day for weeks. What he bought with that was hopelessness, which gave him his narrow victory. Bombarded with his face every day, people thought there was no hope. So many didn’t vote. Bloomberg outsmarted them, although the truth is that every person who couldn’t be bothered to vote against his third term, pricey apathy notwithstanding, shares the blame.  

Bloomberg is a multibillionaire. One day during his campaign I did some arithmetic and found that his fortune could pay my rent for one million, five hundred thousand years. For some perspective I googled “five hundred thousand years ago” and up came a little news item about an old tool discovered by an archeologist, believed to be the earliest known man-made tool in what is now Western Europe, fashioned 500,000 years ago. Which meant that Mike Bloomberg could have paid my rent since the old tool was made by some Neanderthal ancestor  after having already paid my rent for a million years prior to that. I remember going outside that day and encountering a young girl campaigning for the mayor in the rain on Seventh Avenue. I told her what I had just discovered, but the implications of it were completely lost on her. “Why should Mayor Bloomberg have to pay your rent?” the girl asked, and I laughed. “Oh, he shouldn’t,” I told her, and she looked relieved. I asked her if she was planning to vote for him and she dutifully said she would—if she could, that is. She was Canadian, and she didn’t live in New York. It was just a part time job.



When the sun started going down yesterday I took a walk over towards New Jersey. I looked into the Chelsea Square Diner on 9th Avenue. The light was pretty, and I thought how glad I am that it’s still here. A lot of old ladies and old men like it, and if luck allows me to end up an old lady here and if the diner isn’t gone, I’ll eventually be one of them myself. I stopped to talk to a bunch of bored-looking dogs parked outside the deli on 23rd Street in front of the London Terrace, and then I walked over to the river. I looked at the old pilings sticking out of the water and wondered about the men who put them there, the pile drivers. They’d be long dead, and I wondered what they would think if they could see how things look now. I walked as far as 30th Street where a lot of old industry used to be, and where huge new towers are about to go up, and as it got dark I started back home again.

On 29th Street I watched mice darting around piles of trash put out at the edge of the sidewalk, and through the window of a basement apartment I saw a man who looked to be in his sixties cooking his dinner in a room crowded with books. I saw his old sofa and a cat planted on it, and through the window next to that one I saw, in the little light spilling from his living room, his dim and untidy bedroom. I could see a suit jacket hanging on a peg, and on a shelf, the outline of a very old teddy bear.

On 7th Avenue I saw a man who had nodded out in the middle of rolling a cigarette sitting in an office chair against a lamppost.  I saw a trash-picker that I see every so often, going fast from trash bin to trash bin like a bee, and I heard a lady say to another lady: “I got me some plans and I told him so. I said, ‘I got me some plans and they don’t include your ass!’” When I reached the grocery store on 8th Avenue I went in to buy some ice cream. My favorite checker was at her register, an older lady I like very much who wears a bejeweled key around her neck, so I waited on her line. While she rang me up she told me that her old mother has a longhaired Chihuahua who is mean to everyone and urinates on her things whenever he gets a chance. She told me that when she was a kid her mother worked for a Yugoslavian family who had given her their dog, and that dog she had loved more than anything in the world. But the Chihuahua was a different story. I walked home wondering how old the checker’s mother must be since the checker herself isn’t young. I found one of my neighbors standing at the corner waiting for the light to change and we wondered together how long it will be before we have cooking gas again. It’s been almost two months with no gas but finding out what’s going on is an elusive thing. “Does your hotplate have one burner or two?” he wanted to know, and when I told him one, he said that’s what he got too. “I think everybody in the building bought a hotplate,” he said. “I saw the boxes they came in piled up by the trash and I put two and two together.”

I'm glad the Chelsea Square is still here.


July 7, 2015


Copyright Romy Ashby

AMNESIA

All up and down the West Side of Manhattan the city has been grinding up the pavement and making the streets into dirt roads. They do the work in the middle of the night when there is less traffic, a stretch at a time, and then a few nights later they come along and repave each stretch with beautiful smooth black asphalt. The cars sound much quieter on the new pavement, and on Seventh Avenue I saw a nickel, perfectly pressed in, and it looked pretty. When I walked home after dark some nights ago, I noticed that the sidewalk was glimmering the way I remember many more sidewalks and streets doing, when they used pavement mixed with glass. Sometimes they mixed pavement with crushed seashells.

Yesterday afternoon, which was Saturday, I decided to go over to the river and read on a bench. On Seventh Avenue I saw a lot of police cars in front of a restaurant where there was some kind of commotion going on. Swarms of young patrons were pouring in and out, being kind of herded along by two big men in black suits and sunglasses. A police lady escorted a girl with long straight brown hair to one of the police cars. The girl was wearing a mini skirt and very high heels that she seemed to have a hard time balancing in, especially with her hands cuffed behind her back. She was loaded into the back of a police car while a group of girls who looked just like her swarmed the car to look in at her and take pictures. One of the girls was very tall and blonde. She gaped through the window of the police car with her phone to her ear, shrieking, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Then she straightened up and turned away smiling. I saw a boy approach one of the policemen, who stood staring down at his own phone, and say something. The policeman looked up. The boy looked to be 22 or 23, and wore a button-down business shirt ripped wide open down the middle of his back. It looked as if it had been torn apart by a big claw.

The crowd on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant was like one big creature, like an amoeba, with lots of shrieking and hooting and parts of it breaking off into little groups that went staggering out into Seventh Avenue waving and yelling. All the taxi drivers were smart enough to keep right on going, and the cops didn’t do anything about the kids weaving around in the traffic, not even when one of the boys pulled his pants partway down and showed his pale behind, either on purpose or by accident, before he clumsily hoisted a girl into his arms and schlepped her across the street. When they reached the other side he began to hoot in triumph. The cops just stood around, looking at their phones and chatting with girls who stood taking pictures of themselves in front of the squad cars. Then the car with the arrested girl in it pulled out into the street. As it passed me, I saw the girl’s stunned, incredulous face and the lady cop in the passenger seat speaking into her radio, but none of the girl’s compatriots seemed to notice her leaving.  Crowds like these give me a strange feeling that I’m not sure I can describe. It’s a feeling that the day itself isn’t real, but something made of plastic from Best Buy, on sale.
 
Honey & Pilar on my favorite bench by the river a few years ago. 
I went over to the river with my book. There was a breeze and the sky was silver. I saw a shiny black bird dive bomb a squirrel and then swoop up onto a branch. I saw the squirrel dart out from the bushes and race to the base of the tree to antagonize the bird. I went out to the end of the pier and sat on a bench, from where I could see the Statue of Liberty in the haze down at the bottom of the island. I thought of the time years ago when I went down to the statue in a kayak and all the way around it. I saw sea birds nesting in holes at the base of the little island where the statue stands, and lying back in the kayak, the view of the big verdigris lady looming straight up so high was breathtaking. Going down had been easy. It was the coming back against the tide part that wasn’t. Sitting on the bench with my book, I thought how glad I was to have done that, especially so I don’t have to do it again.

I watched an elegant white boat making its slow approach from the south. It looked like John F. Kennedy’s yacht, the Honey Fitz. I sat imagining what it might be like to take such a boat as far as the river goes. And I thought of someone who told me once about working on a tugboat that went all the way up to the Adirondacks, and cooking oatmeal in the little galley.


Finally I opened my book. Just as I found my place, I felt a rain drop and then another, so I put it back in my bag. Saturday afternoon is not the best time to go for a walk in the city. I almost always think that when I try it, but I get amnesia each week and forget.  The rain didn’t last, so I took my time going home. On 22nd Street I saw through an open window a wall of books behind a man with white hair seated at a table. And on a tall stoop at the end of that same block a man with a beard sat with a big dog. The dog met my gaze so I said, “Hello Dog, I love you,” and he thumped his tail at me. “He knows what that means,” the man said.

May 17, 2015

PICTURES OF THE GONE WORLD

On Seventh Avenue the other day my bookseller friend waved me down with two little books from the City Lights Pocket Poets series. He’d had them set aside. He figured I’d pass by eventually, he said. One was Golden Sardine by Bob Kaufman, who I love, and the other Pictures of the Gone World by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He let me have both for not a lot of money and I felt happy, as much because he’d thought of me as for the books themselves. As I walked downtown I thought of a cold day long ago when I stopped to look at some old books, on his table on that same corner, and bought one for my dad. I’ve forgotten exactly what the book was now, it might have been Herman Melville or maybe Joseph Conrad, both of whom my dad loved, but it was old and fragile and I had just enough money to buy it. As I walked away, the bookseller came hurrying after me with another old book, its pages edged with gold, and said that I had to have it; the two really went together, he said, and he gave it to me. It was held together with a piece of twine. I sent the two books together to my dad for Christmas, with a note telling him the story. He loved the story as much as the books. My dad was an eccentric with no money, but he kept his own little collection of books in his room full of cigarette smoke, books he’d had since the ‘40s, and he referred to them as ‘My library.’

To this day I love the bookseller, with his beard and his coat, the way he can talk about books and the backstories of their authors, and sometimes he’ll tell a good story of how he came to have a particular book. In another place or time he might have had a fine shop, and in my neighborhood, as rich as it has become, his table out on the corner is in fact the finest—and only—bookshop there is.

I thought of another old guy who used to come out onto 7th Avenue, laden with bags, and spread a cloth over the sidewalk. The bags were full of seashells and old bottles—sometimes just pieces of old bottles—and he would spend a few hours arranging them on the cloth. They looked beautiful. He didn’t sell anything, it was just the arrangement he was after and how magnificent it looked. The bottles were all clear or whitish glass, but in certain light, colors would appear in them like magic, and the shells were all different kinds and shapes. How lovely a striped seashell looked beside an old medicine bottle! It seems to me he was always there on silver days but without rain, and thinking of him, with his big nose and gray hair sticking out of his cap, laying each bottle and shell onto his cloth, I remembered these lines from “The Chambered Nautilus,” about a seashell and the creature that built it:

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul…
Let each new temple, nobler than the last
Shut thee from Heaven with a dome more vast

And I felt sure that if I were to recite them to my bookseller, he would know they were by Oliver Wendell Holmes. 

I was on my way to the B & H Dairy on 2nd Avenue, located on the half of the block between 7th Street and St. Marks that survived the gas explosion last week. The big empty square full of bricks on the other half, where four beautiful old buildings stood for more than a century, and the blasted out windows around it, reminded me of the way so much of the far East Village used to look—like London after the Blitz—when I lived there in the ‘80s. Block after block of ruins, deliberately burned by landlords who wanted the insurance money. 

And I thought too about all of the more recent, deliberate, ‘legal’ destruction; the knocking down of perfectly good old buildings of a particular size, to make way for bigger, boring, glass ‘luxury’ buildings that always rise in their places. I remember standing in 2005 on the corner of 8th Avenue and 18th Street, where two pretty and well-kept buildings were being demolished. A man next to me said, “I don’t understand. There’s nothing wrong with those buildings. Why are they tearing them down?” He said aloud what I was thinking, and I went home and got my camera.

Two cops were standing outside the B & H when I got there, but it wasn’t open, they told me. The manager was standing outside, though, and he was sweet. “We don’t have gas yet so we can’t cook anything,” he told me. “All we can do right now is clean,” he said, and he smiled. “I hope next week.” It is truly pure luck that finds B & H and Gem Spa—that half of the block—still there. And with the way things are going in the city, everything small and utilitarian has a cowering, precarious feel about it. 

Is it worse, I wondered as I looked at 2nd Avenue, when buildings are leveled by something ‘accidental?’ To me it seems worse when it’s done on purpose, maybe even especially when it’s ‘legal.’ Somebody always gets pushed out. When a rich family bought a tenement on East 3rd Street and forced out the tenants to have the entire building for themselves, it was astonishing. With their money they could have bought a place in any wealthy neighborhood. Why displace working-class people from their homes?

Since that day ten years ago when I wondered at the little buildings being demolished I’ve taken thousands of pictures, and so many are already Pictures of the Gone World, just like Ferlinghetti’s book. Sometimes it feels as if the whole city is built on cracking ice.

April 4, 2015

copyright Romy Ashby


SENSIBILITY

A few days ago, before the real cold started, I stopped at the corner of 19th Street and 7th Avenue to look at what my bookseller friend had on his table. I’m always glad to see him sitting there with his long white beard and he usually has something I want. “Hey, have you ever read this?” he said when he saw me, and he tapped Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer by Kenneth Patchen. As it happened, I had just the night before read something about the scandal that book had caused in 1945, and about how Kenneth Patchen had sprouted a mysterious black fur all over his tongue. So I bought it, and also Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell, which I had read a hundred years ago but completely forgotten. On Sunday night I read it again, remembering how good it is as snow began to fall outside. It snowed all night, and listening to the plows rumbling by and the radiator banging away inside I felt very lucky because there are lots of people in this rich new city of New York who still live outside, more down and out than ever.

In the morning everything was white. I had to go downtown for an appointment and on the way I admired  ornate handrails and ornaments made of wrought iron, beautifully glazed in frozen snow.  On Lower Broadway I looked in at the gravestones standing together behind the iron cemetery gates of Trinity Church; magical and somehow innocent, and very, very old. I thought of a little book I bought from the bookseller’s table in the middle of January called Wrought Iron: Its Manufacture, Characteristics and Applications, and how curious and poetic I found the scientific analyses of iron presented in tables. Iron hardware with varying phosphorus and copper content was taken from such places as the hydraulic elevators of an office building in Chicago, the hull of a tugboat named “Margaret” in Baltimore, and an elevated train structure in New York. The iron pipe taken from the train trestle was found to be in very good shape after having been part of the old El since 1877. I read about Egyptologists discovering wrought-iron hasps and nails in ancient tombs “as lustrous and as pliant as the day on which they were made,” and I learned that the Cathedral of St. John the Divine was built to “endure for centuries” using wrought iron in all kinds of places within its great structure. Buildings described in the book as “permanent” are all full of wrought iron, even if you can’t see it. And that’s not counting all the old buildings with cast-iron façades. I stood outside the old cemetery thinking about how easy it is to imagine St. John the Divine as being permanent, and the Empire State Building too, even though a plane once flew into it and made a huge hole. The Empire State Building is 84 years old, and to me it has never looked more solid and sensible.

It was cold on my way back uptown so I was glad for my woolen cape over my coat, and especially for my black rubber boots that meant I could wade through icy lagoons. Looking into the sky at the swirling snow was intoxicating. On Sixth Avenue I looked through the steamy windows of the florist where the two blasé cats live and there sat a new one, young-looking and orange, way at the back of the shop. I tapped my ring on the glass and the cat looked at me but didn’t budge. I walked through 29th Street where time seemed to slip back a few decades with all the old-style shops selling scarves and hats and wedding dresses in little buildings with warm windows and fire escapes covered in snow. Men pushed carts piled with boxes through the slush, and when I turned a corner there was the Empire State Building, regal and plain, standing behind the lovely old Gilsey House Hotel with its pretty clock. 

I’ve looked at those two buildings standing there together more times than I can count, but they've never looked as pretty or as near as they did in that moment. In the snowy light the Empire State Building looked like a lady wearing the coat she bought at Lord and Taylor in 1960 that is still perfectly good. And I was struck with a distinct impression of Old New York worrying about her memory and wondering if she has Alzheimer’s, because of the way she keeps losing things. So many things she kept for years have been disappearing, and it’s been happening for a while—a string of little buildings gone, pretty letters that used to glow at night that she can’t put her hands on—each vanished entity taking with it an invisible but palpable store of history and memory. I thought of my friend Pete, who at the age of 99 showed me the coin purse she’d had since she was no more than twenty—made of leather with a silver snap clasp—and said, “Sometimes I sit and just marvel at the fortunes in coins that have passed through this little purse.”

I felt a fleeting deep mourning for the Old Lady New York who can’t recognize herself, and for the Empire State Building who has to put up with being dressed as a giant lava lamp whether she likes it or not, surrounded by loud young buildings that stand around admiring their reflections in each other. But in that pretty moment there on 29th Street, everything looked as beautiful as an old photograph of the Old City in her prime. “Don’t worry,” I thought at her, “You don’t have Alzheimer’s. It’s just age.” Telling her the truth, it seemed to me, would serve no purpose.

Once home I was happy to find the radiator banging because sometimes, in very cold weather like this, old boilers just decide to give up.

February 4, 2015

Copyright Romy Ashby 2015