Home is a place in the mind

Even after more than twenty-five years the long-winded lady cannot think of herself as a ‘real’ New Yorker. If she has a title, it is one held by many others, that of a traveler in residence. A a traveler she is interested in what she sees, but she is not very curious, not even inquisitive. She is not a sightseer, never an explorer. Little out-of-the-way places have to be right next door to whatever she happens to be living for her to discover them. She has never felt the urge that drives people to investigate the city from top to bottom. Large areas of city living are a blank to her. She knows next to nothing about the Lower East Side, less about the Upper East Side, nothing at all about the Upper West Side. She believes the small, inexpensive restaurants are the home fires of New York City. She seldom goes to theater or to the movies or to art galleries or museums. She likes parades very much. She wishes we could have music in the streets – strolling violinists, singers, barrel organs without monkeys.


She thinks the best view of the city is the one you get from the bar that is on top of the Time-Life Building. She also likes the view from the windows of street-level restaurants. She hates being a shut-in-dinner. She wishes all the Longchamps restaurants would come back with all their oranges and mosaic Indians and imitation greenery. She wishes TIm Costello hadn’t died. She likes taxis. She travels in buses and subways only when she is trying to stop smoking. When a famous, good old house is torn down she thinks it is silly to memorialize it by putting a plaque on the concrete walls of the superstructure that takes its place. She regrets Stern Bros. department store, and Wanamaker’s, and all the demolished hotels, including the Astor. When she looks about her, it is not the strange or exotic ways of people that interest her, but the ordinary ways, when something that is familiar to her shows. She is drawn to what she recognizes, or half-recognizes […]. Somebody said, “We are real only in moments of kindness.” Moments of kindness, moments of recognition – if there is a difference it is a faint one. I think the long-winded lady is real when she writes, here, about some of the sights she saw in the city she loves.”

Maeve Brennan

More about a long-winded traveler in residence.


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