28 June 2009

hommage à martín

I love the way NYC works. It has been written about. For example, there was an article a few years ago about how you know the newsstand and deli people but not the details of their life. You're both familiar, in both senses.

This morning, I told Martín at Silver Spurs that I was moving from NYC tomorrow. He looked like he wanted to hug me and he did wish me well. We don't usually say much beyond "the usual?" and "more coffee?" but when I went to the cash register, the guy there said "I hear this is your last Sunday with us" and shook my hand and wished me well. It's that friendly anonymity that is so satisfactory.

In the fall of 1997 when I had my nose reconstruction, I'd been going to the same newsstand for a couple years, buying the Times, and saying "Have a nice day" (trite, perhaps, but well meant). As the bandages lessened in size, the woman at the newsstand said "better?" and I nodded and said thanks. She didn't have much English but it didn't matter.

Leaving Silver Spurs this morning, the usual Sunday morning routine, I was overcome by the feeling of loss. Not bad loss, but sentimental for that friendly anonymity. I'll find my way in Alfred but I'll live there, at least in the short term, as an urban person: friendly but not needing to know every detail of your life. Generally, I'd just as soon talk about art, architecture, queer stuff, politics, sustainability, even religion.


Ilaria/Swimturtle said...

yes, that friendly anonymity. For us loner/intellectual types it is ideal! I don't like the idea of living in the middle of nowhere, because I do love human contact and warmth, but I spend most of my time alone and I like it that way. If you live in New York, when the walls start caving in on you, all you have to do is go to the corner to get coffee and you get that familiarity you describe here. People smile at you, you smile at them, a kind word, encouragement, something. And when you get back inside the walls are back in their regular positions again.

Sherman Clarke said...

Alfred has a nice coffee shop (The Terra Cotta) with long hours and wireless so I might just take my loner/intellectual self there pretty often. And there's a 24-hour convenience store that has a coffee machine. Both of these are about a five-minute walk from the house in Alfred. I will survive.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea you had a nose reconstruction! This isn't my blog and I certainly don't have the subject cataloging expertise that you do, but perhaps this post deserves the label 'new york city' too.
Also I suspect that you have a better chance at that friendly anonymity in a college town than in a more (what's the right adjective?) provincial? place.