A blazingly gorgeous spring Sunday. Sunny enough to debate about whether to take a jacket (… or will it be so warm that I won’t need one?). When I first moved into this place, back in 1998, I could look out the window, see passers-by on the street, and — based on what they were wearing or carrying — decide how to prepare myself for the outside world. If the pedestrians were rushing by with umbrellas, I made sure to carry one with me. If they pulled their scarfs up over their noses, tight against the wind, I’d remember to wear gloves and a muffler and a hat.
But those days are gone. A few years ago, a developer began to build on the lot next door and, as the building rose, I gradually lost my view of the street. Now I look out upon walls, windows, roofs, but no people or dogs or cars, and wardrobe decisions are more of a crap shoot.
Brunch at L’Express, a French bistro on Park Avenue South, with a friend who is preparing for a first trip to Paris. I brought along a little gift — an illustrated guidebook purchased when I visited the Musée d’Orsay, the impressionist museum housed in a former train station.
Guidebooks are odd things. You buy them when you go someplace, then bring them home and put them on a shelf forever. Why do we bring them home? Does anyone ever spend a quiet evening leafing through an old guidebook saying, “Ah, yes, that’s where the ladies’ room was at Vatican! Funny, I remembered it as being on the other side of the gift shop. Good thing I kept this guidebook handy!” So, the guide and a map of Paris will travel with someone who can actually put them to good use, and I’ll have a tiny bit less stuff in this tiny apartment. For good measure, I threw in a few more guidebooks: Delphi, Windsor (England) and Brighton Pavillion.
Then, having disposed of the excess books, walked over to the Strand Book Store and bought about a dozen more. In my own defense, they were all from the 49 cent cart. Okay, the price is no justification — they’ll still take up precious space — but I just couldn’t resist.
Strolled through Union Square and wound up at the new Whole Foods Market — three floors filled with fresh, fragrant, exotic dishes. Even though I’d only intended to look around, I snagged a chilled container of fresh, crunchy Gus’s Pickles and carried it, sloshing around the bag full of books, all the way home to Brooklyn. And, miraculously, not a single drop of pickle juice spilled.