Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Nice Day


An e-mail I got Thursday led to a really nice day Friday. Months ago, I'd gotten my NYC public library card, and the first thing I did was request the new bio of Assia Wevill (the "other woman" in the Sylvia Plath/Ted Hughes fiasco): "Lover of Unreason." It'd been so long, I'd forgotten about it, but Thursday I got the notice that it had arrived in my neighborhood library!

As a kid, I was raised on going to libraries, and I always looked forward to it. (The thrill I got then out of picking interesting stuff out and being excited about getting the books home reminds me of the thrill I get now whenever something from Amazon.com arrives!) Unfortunately, once in my college years, I began working in the main university library for years and years and, while I liked the stimulation of being around the books, my low salary and inability to advance eventually made me pretty resentful. I quit my last library job in 2000, and had only been in ANY library about 3 times since then!

So anyhow, moving to New York City and getting my first library card here months ago renewed my enthusiasm for the whole adventure of going into a cool, quiet place and getting to pick out anything that interests you----for free!

So I went to pick up my long-awaited (and then forgotten) Assia Wevill book. And walked out of there feeling like the rest of my day was going to be great, and it was! First off, I walked the couple of blocks from the library to the Morris-Jumel Mansion, which is the oldest house in all of New York City. (Built in 1765, the house was originally the home of British commander Roger Morris. When the Revolutionary War started, he high-tailed it for Britain, and the house was subsequently George Washington's headquarters for a while in 1776. In 1790, it was the site of a dinner attended by Washington, John and John Quincy Adams, Jefferson, and Hamilton. It was later purchased by the Frenchman Stephen Jumel; when he died, his widow married Aaron Burr, who lived there for 3 years before their divorce.) The house is a museum, and was closed by the time I arrived, but its one-acre grounds have benches and are open to the public as a park.

So I sat there on a park bench and just read my new, exciting book for about an hour while looking up at the house every now and then. And then I got hungry and went to my favorite cheap restaurant a few blocks away and ate and read some more. And then I walked around on Broadway and got an ice-cream. And then I walked on down to the Hudson River... my current apartment overlooks the Hudson, but up in the 150s. I'd never gone walking below that. When I did, I discovered 10 blocks of a wide, gorgeous tree-lined walk that wasn't very crowded or hectic, mainly strollers and joggers and families out for some air. So I sat there and read and smoked for a while. And then discovered, around 145th St., a walkway that stretches out over the Hudson. I stood and watched while the sun set, then slowly made my way the 10 blocks back home, stopping once to sit and read by lamplight. For once, I wasn't dreading how my roommate was going to act when I got home. All I was thinking was that I'd only read a third of the book, and I had the whole evening ahead of me to finish it. Which I did. I was in bed early, by 12:30. Of course, an insane knock on my door came at 1 a.m., but by that time I was mostly asleep and didn't care and didn't answer.

The whole day had given me a taste of how "normal" and nice things can be. And will be.

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