ADVENTURES IN NEW YORK CITY II

February 25, 2014

ADVENTURES IN NEW YORK CITY

My Walkabout—Part II

Panic gradually subsides and I continue up boring 5thAvenue.  I need to see some trees and dirt and 0526f-img_1135flowing water.  I finally come to the edge of Central Park. There are about two dozen horse-drawn carriages parked along the streets.

I see a number of them clopping through the park—a nice way to explore the park if you want to spare your feet the trek.

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There isn’t any dirt because the park is blanketed in snow.  I climb up a hill and enjoy a bit of a view into the park.

72abb-img_1128The “flowing water” is of course, frozen.  There is a flock of ducks skating on it.

I spot the zoo.  I think that would be a nice place to visit.  It will cost me $12 and they are only open for another hour.  Do they have large cats or apes?  No?!  Oh, they have a snow leopard…and a petting zoo…a few monkeys…never mind—I’ll visit Como Zoo in St. Paul when I get home.  Como has apes and lions and tigers and bears…even zebras and giraffes!

I wander along the path to a large skating rink.  It’s difficult to see the ice under all the skaters.  I wander out of the park, back into the hub-bub.  I head down 7thAvenue—David said it will hook up with Broadway and take me to Times Square.  “You’ve GOT to see Times Square,” he said.

It’s nearly 4:00 and I’m hungry.  I finally spot a restaurant advertising healthy, organic food.  A young woman is sitting on the sidewalk reading a book with a sign on the ground next to her: “Stranded Need Help Any kindness is appreciated”.  I walk halfway down the block to an art shop where I wander around for about 10 minutes, wondering about the girl.  I walk back to the corner.  I’m nervous.

“Hello,” I say, and she looks up, surprised.  She smiles.  She has a tooth missing.  She looks tired.

“Have you eaten?” I ask.  She says she had some breakfast at the mission.

“What time was that?” I ask her.  She says 7:00.

“I’m going inside.  Would you like to join me?  I’ll buy you some lunch,” I say.

“Well, that’s okay,” she says.  “But…well…I AM really thirsty…if you wouldn’t mind…ahhh…”

“Come on,” I say.  “What’s your name?”

“Lindsey,” she says.  I shake her cold hand and tell her, “I’m Mary.”  We go inside.

She chooses a vitamin water as I start quizzing the counter boy whether the soup has gluten in it.  Lindsey asks me if I’d mind if she also got a yogurt granola parfait from the cooler.  I say that’s fine.  The boy doesn’t know if the soups have gluten in them, so I begin asking about the rice bowl salad.  Finally I am satisfied it is probably safe and I order.  Lindsey brings me napkins and a fork and then points out to me that up on the soup menu board there is a code system indicating whether they are GF or not.

I ask her why she is stranded and she tells me about her old grandmother who lives upstate.

“I have to go see her as often as I can, you know–to help her out.  But I can’t stay there.  She lives in the country and has no plumbing and it’s really hard,” she says.  She looks wistful.  I can see she loves her grandmother.

I ask her about work.

“I get work where I can.  It’s hard in this city, you know?  It’s easier further south, but I’m trying to get back to my grandmother—you know, with this hard winter and all.  Sometimes I get jobs handing out pamphlets but you have to be there by 5:00 in the morning so I miss breakfast and it’s really hard to stand out in the cold all day and bother people.  Sometimes I get jobs in a kitchen.  Doing this, (she shakes her money cup) is a last resort.”

“How do you eat?  Where do you sleep?” I ask.

“Oh, there’s a church over there where I can go and eat and sleep.  It’s warm there.”

My food is ready and I pay for it and hand her the bag with her water and yogurt parfait.  She thanks me and shakes my hand and wishes me well.  By the time I reach the door, she has disappeared into the crowd.

I don’t feel like eating in the cramped deli.  I carry my bag down the street.  I notice several theaters, and pass Carnegie Hall.  There is construction happening in front of it—something with the sidewalk?  It doesn’t look particularly grand.  I wonder where people park.  Or do they all take subways except for the rich who take taxi’s?

The sun has disappeared now…setting somewhere behind the skyline.  It is colder.  Ahead I see lights, huge lighted advertisements—most of them videos.  Times Square.

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