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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

New York City Trip - Part 3

January 16-25, 2010: If you Google "the city that never sleeps", New York City pops up as the likely candidate. Visitors to the city may be convinced of the validity of this reference. There do seem to be a lot of people out and about at all times. Son Steven has sometimes had to work until the wee hours of the morning, but has not felt unsafe during the thirty minute walk home from the Deutsch Bldg. at 8th Avenue & 14th Street.

Trying to fall asleep at 2:30 AM on a Sunday morning while nestled into the bedding on the couch in the living room, I can hear the revelers walking down the sidewalk along 9th Street - just down from the corner of 5th Avenue. The room's 6th floor apartment windows are open a bit at the top to let in some continuous riffle of refreshingly cool air. The young folks' laughter and high voices enter as well. I like the happy sounds. They don't seem to provoke any stirrings from the twins and their parents sleeping in the next room. Sleep is at a premium when living with infant twins not yet adjusted to sleeping through the night, but I am being flexible knowing that this is a short term visit, I don't have to get up to go to work in the morning, and if the little girls awake during the night several times, which is inevitable! - then I can remain in my couch potato status while Steven and Sara take care of business.

Sara informs me later that the hardly noticeable entrance, just down the block, to the PATH subway train, connects northern New Jersey with Manhattan. She adds that Saturday night is a big night for Jersey visitors when the cafes, theaters, and clubs in the village beckon. Also, New York University occupies many blocks around Washington Square Park. It has the distinction of being the largest private university in America. All these things contribute to the night sounds.

Nothing defines Greenwich Village to me as much as Washington Square Park, and likewise the Washington Square Arch. The present-day marble arch was preceded by a wooden version that marked the centenary of George Washington's inauguration. Washington took his oath of office on the steps of what is now the Federal Hall National Memorial on Wall Street, cattycornered across the street from the New York Stock Exchange in Lower Manhattan. I don't know why the monument wasn't erected closer to that area, but I do appreciate its beautiful setting with 5th Avenue arriving just short of the base of the arch on its long stretch southward down Manhattan Island alongside the eastern edge of Central Park and alongside the Empire State Building to end at Washington Square Park. I can also greatly appreciate the fact that the apartment building where Steven, Sara, Magnolia and Dorothy live is just 2 short blocks up 5th Avenue from the park!

One evening just after sundown, I am out walking in the neighborhood to stretch my legs a bit. Steven will be coming home late again, so I have some time before I start preparing dinner. Before leaving the apartment, I notice on the news that it is 39 degrees outside, so I don't plan to stay out long. I wander down to the park with camera in hand. It is lovely at night with the glowing white monument first demanding attention, and then I notice the soft lovely glow of the mid-19th century style iron street lights making shadows of the tall elm trees along the walks and out into the spreading green spaces. The central plaza around the park's sunken fountain — the site of impromptu musical gatherings for decades and where Bob Dylan sang his first folk songs— underwent major renovations in recent years to shift the fountain about 22 feet to the east to align it with the arch and Fifth Avenue, making its placement more symmetrical. Folks are wandering about and I feel perfectly safe in this 10 acre park. I wish I could witness the magic of snow turning it into a true wonderland of beauty, but no snow is forecast during my visit. Time to head back up 5th Avenue to the warm coziness of twinsville.

Another evening I am out late heading for the CVS pharmacy. Dorothy and Magnolia had their 9th-week checkup this day and are now feeling the effects of the 3 vaccinations they had received in their upper leg muscles. Sara and I decide not to wait for Steven to arrive home from work with the infant pain medication - we need it now! I walk a block south and then cross 5th Avenue to head eastward, per Sara's directions. I am a grandmother on a mission - don't get in my way! Yet, as I am crossing the street, I overhear the young man in front of me exclaiming, "Oh La La! Oh La La!" He is talking on his cell phone in rapid French. (Luckily, I took French in high school.) He doesn't turn after crossing the street, but continues the same way I am heading. I gather a few more phrases - " très belle femme", and then later "ma petite chou". Ha! He's talking about a mademoiselle! A very beautiful mademoiselle! Some more "Oh La La!"s - Darn! I wish I knew more French!

I have to laugh inside - my memory flashing back to a favorite John Wayne movie, "North To Alaska". John Wayne is playing the part of Big Sam McCord and he shows up on his gold-panning partner's cabin doorstep after being gone for awhile (Stewart Granger playing the part of George Pratt, with the other member of the team being his younger brother - Fabian playing the part of Billy Pratt) - anyway, back to the doorstep - here is Big Sam presenting to him not Frenchie, the bride-to-be, whom George is expecting his buddy to fetch from Seattle to cure his lovesickness, but a fetching substitute nonetheless, Michelle 'Angel' (played by the actress Capucine). Well, it turns out that MIchelle had fallen for Big Sam, and he likewise for Michelle, on the long boat ride to Alaska - but there is tension between them - and there is good ol' pal George who is heartbroken that his precious Frenchie had jilted him for another man down stateside. The plot thickens as Michelle, in pity, calls George "mon petit chou". He is entranced! Why, that is the very thing Frenchie use to call him! Michelle explains that it is a French endearment (for Darling) which literally translates to "my little cabbage". Go figure the French!

Lo and behold, this Frenchie goes into the CVS pharmacy ahead of me, and I hear no more of La La land as I head for the pain medication aisle and locate the desired bottle of Tylenol Infant Drops. Then, I quickly pay for my purchase and head back to the apartment and mes petites choux on the 6th floor. Another interesting evening - on the streets of New York.

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