I am this side of a weekend in New York City.
The last time I visited the city was over three years ago. I was taking part in a conference in October 2010 on the Columbia campus. Travelling with colleagues, I managed some time on my own. One evening I attended a play written in rhyming couplets about a seventeenth-century French dramatist modeled on Moliere. I took the bus down from Columbia another day and strolled through the Neue Galerie on the Upper East Side.
A year earlier I had made a summer visit to a friend in the City. She and I sat gaping during one matinee performance of Mary Stuart while the heroine opened her arms to a rainstorm onstage. A poet and writer and librarian, my friend agreed to join me in journaling in the Reading Room of the New York Public Library; we took seats outside the library later and read to one another what we had written.
In the city on various occasions over the past three decades, I have strolled through Greenwich Village on numerous evenings with friends from New Jersey, attended Madama Butterfly at the Met for my fortieth birthday, went to Mass again and again at St Francis Xavier near Washington Square, and haunted the aisles of the Strand Book Store.
If I review New York memories at this point, it is to be able to step off the bus this Saturday morning and greet the friend meeting me and match his pace across town to lunch. No standing with a map, no squinting up at street signs. Just a weekend in the City. Just good conversation and unhurried eating. How did I get this lucky again?