There's a friend of mine, well, he and I have a complex relationship. Yet hardly anyone makes me laugh as hard as he does. He has a unique world view, a different way of expressing himself in words, and an innate sense of what makes me tick.
One night, he gave me a beautiful gift. He teaches in the City. Which one, you ask? For those of us from NY there is only one. I like to hear the song of the city through his cell phone, the sound of "Fordham Station, Fordham Station is next," and the clickety clack of the Metro North trains on the tracks. The sirens, the rush of noise and activity, the ducking in a diner for a cup of cawwwwfee, as New Yorkers say. All of it is beautiful and sentimental to me because it means "home."
One night he was walking along here and describing it to me. For all the hundred, no probably thousands now, of miles I have walked in NY, I'd never even heard of this place:
The street sign evokes memories of quiet rooms in towns in NY and CT, cool and dim with radiators that would suddenly clang, making me jump. There was that indefiniable musty smell of old books and paste, that hushed air that is nearly like church, but not exactly. The promise of a new (to me) author, the thrill of finding a new treasure from the pen of an old friend. My love affair with words and books began in the library.
I loved the old card catelogs, the purple ink pad, the metal stamp with the date, month, and year that always meted out the time in biweekly intervals, the thump and click of the date marked into the borrowed book, and the snap when the librarian closed the volume shut.
He started reading the words of famous writers which are marked into the sidewalk that New Yorkers walk over, most of them hurrying, also on cell phones but oblivious to the treasure trod underfoot. I was entranced. He read all the way back to the train station. That was last year. The other night, he read this one to me
Karen Blixen was portrayed in film by Meryl Streep, in Out of Africa, one of my favorite movies.
Sometimes I have a childish way of wanting to jump ship when I get frustrated in a conversation. I say, "Peace Out" when I mean anything but. I get teased about it. I deserve it, I should be more grown up. I was getting teased about it just today so I designed my own Library Way in front of 256: