GRAYING NEW YORK
BY MARCIA EPSTEIN
Over the past several weeks, John and I have taken rides into the countryside to enjoy the foliage and visit various places. One, as I mentioned in my previous column, was to my hometown of Croton-on-Hudson. We’ve been on Long island, and to Piermont, in Rockland County, and Tallman State Park. We’ve been to a farm stand outside of Middletown, New York for apple cider and donuts and to a farm near Poughkeepsie just to wander around and get some country air. We’ve seen stunning foliage that leaves me feeling exhilarated.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I’m not a fan of summer and humidity, and I just love the turning of the leaves. But still, but yet ... when we turn onto 96th Street in Manhattan, no sight leaves me more thrilled. I love Manhattan, and I especially love the Upper West Side, my neighborhood since college graduation. I need to get out of the city in all seasons, but Manhattan is always where I long to return. The vibrant, ever-moving, ever-stimulating scene on the streets, the familiar diners and groceries, the people, (my landsmen, of all religions and shades). The whole vibe.
Nothing is as good as coming home. Nothing else means “home” the way the streets of upper Broadway do to me. Oh, and did I mention the food? Particularly the diners.
I’ve been in diners all over Long Island, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley. Nothing compares to the diners in New York City — with one exception; City Limits Diner in White Plains. I’m a diner fan, and a pancake aficionado also. I haven’t had a decent pancake outside of good ol’ New York. So I’m very lucky to live on the Upper West Side, and also very lucky to be able to travel outside of it. But not too far. At my age, I just want to come back to my own bed and bath.
Of course, now there’s another reason to be happy to come home. Upstate, there are still some Trump signs. Like most everyone else in my turf, the election knocked me badly off balance. That Wednesday, it literally felt as though someone I knew had died. My head was heavy, my stomach in knots. I was stunned into uncharacteristic silence. I had lunch with a friend and neither of us was in our usual gossipy mode. We both were mostly silent. What was there say, after all? We were both shattered. The neighborhood felt so quiet, so shell-shocked. The day after, I witnessed a scene in a local diner where the customer was (quietly) dressing down the cashier for joining in a triumphant Trump party. Everyone’s nerves were, and still are, on edge. At least, everyone I know and respect.
I suppose I am adjusting, though the idea of saying “President Trump” seems almost laughable, until I realize it’s not. Like almost everyone I know, I am very afraid. I have children and grandchildren and I fear for their future. We must, of course, go on with our daily lives, but hopefully we will find a way to get through this disaster and work for a better outcome next time. Many words have been written about this election, and so I won’t write any more. All I can say is that I’m grateful to live where I do, with people I can relate to and commiserate with. People who will be working for a better future and fighting to hold on to what’s good and right and fair in the present.
Vive the Upper West Side. Vive New York City. I love you, I appreciate you, you’re the only place I want to live.