new york part seven – memories

Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.

Mattie Stepanek, American poet 1990 – 2004

The back story:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

With just a few hours left in our trip, we finally managed to get ourselves up off the bench overlooking East Houston and get a move on. We hopped in a cab. Seems that the gentrification that deposited the espresso machine at Russ’s & Daughters some time in the last thirty years also brought cabs to the Lower East Side. Nifty that. And not. But a cab when you need one is nice.

We headed uptown without any real plan, but knowing that we’d have to make it back to the hotel eventually to retrieve our bags. Katie decided that she wanted to go to FAO Schwarz one more time before we left, then take a walk through the park. This trip was her gift from Papa; I was just along for the ride.

FAO was just as much fun as it had been the day before. There was, after all, a new toy soldier doorman to mug with.

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{image is a photo of Katie standing with the doorman at FAO who is saluting. She is not.}

And lots more toys to test.

(No image because I was too busy testing them with her to take photos.)

But, best of all, time to play the piano.

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{image is a photo of Katie playing the giant floor piano at FAO Schwarz … with her feet.}

One of my favorite moments was when she stopped what she was doing to help this nice lady who declared that she had no idea what to do.

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{image is a photo of Katie pointing to the keys for the lady to step on to make a song. She stayed with her, pointing to each key until she’d played half of Chopsticks. It was kinda awesome.}

On the way out, we stopped to take a picture with Spiderman, who Katie said was totally creepy and breathed in her ear.

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{image is a photo of Katie standing with Spiderman who is totally creepy and breathing in her ear. It’s awkward. And creepy. Let’s move on.}

When we walked out, I had a plan. I wanted to surprise Katie with the one thing that I knew that she really wanted, and for which I knew she wouldn’t ask. (She’d asked when we first arrived and I’d told her that it just wasn’t in the budget, which it really wasn’t.) But we’d been frugal throughout the trip and, well, I really wanted to do this for her … and with her.

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{image is a photo of Katie petting the horse pulling the hansom cab we were about to ride through the park.}

When I was a kid, I LOVED New York’s horse-drawn carriages. There was an old-time romance about them — a slower pace in the middle of the chaos of the city that forced a different perspective — and a very different kind of presence. I wanted that for her.

I walked up to one that looked inviting, ready to negotiate a price, as you do. Or, apparently, as you did. The driver pointed to the laminated rate sheet next to his license and the cab’s registration. “It’s all regulated now,” he said. “It is what it is.” A little bummed about missing out on part of the process, we hopped in for a twenty-minute ride through the park.

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{image is a photo of Katie standing on a massive rock in Central park in 2009}

Katie’s eyes were wide. She took in every bit of it. The rocks we climbed when she was eight, the ice skating rink, the old Dairy, so-called because it used to be used as a milking station. She marveled at the buildings ringing the park, the Pierre, the Time Warner towers, the Dakota where John Lennon had lived and died. She smiled when the driver pointed down to Tavern on the Green and I told her that’s where Grammy had taken me and my friends for lunch on my sixteenth birthday.

“I feel like royalty,” she said.

It was perfect.

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{image is a photo of me and Katie in the carriage.}

The ride was over far too fast, but it was nearing time for us to be getting to the train station anyway. We thanked both the driver and his horse, then made our way West to the hotel.

On the way, we passed this and had to stop for a photo. I really, really love this picture.

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{image is a photo of Katie sitting on a bench with her arm around a wrought iron monkey who is shielding his eyes to avoid seeing two other wrought iron monkeys who appear to be canoodling on the other end of the bench. It’s hilarious.}

We collected our bags from the bellman and walked South toward Penn Station. There was so much more to do, but so much we had done. I couldn’t — and still can’t — believe how much we packed into less than 30 hours.

But Katie still had one thing on her list. And she wasn’t leaving until she crossed it off.

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{image is a photo of Katie holding a dirty water dog (a New York pushcart hot dog). She is very, very happy.}

Finally it was time to go. We said our goodbyes to the city and settled onto the train. Katie dug into her new Strand messenger bag and pulled out her beautiful new copy of My Antonia. I reached for my new book as well: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s A Diamond As Big As The Ritz. And then I put it on my lap and played Candy Crush on my phone. I had the book on my lap though, so it was a very intellectual game of Candy Crush. Shut up.

We ate what was left of our fudge from Dylan’s and called it dinner. We giggled on the train. We looked at photos and talked about the trip. We sat quietly together, just being, passing time.

When we got to the station, half an hour later than schedule, Luau and Brooke were waiting. We got into the car and Brooke turned away to face the window, which, despite the bitter cold, she had open. And then, ever so quickly, she kissed my shoulder.

“I missed you too,” I said.

She put her fingers on my lips. I kissed them lightly. She pulled them back. “No,” she said. She put them on my lips again. I didn’t move.

“So … good trip?” Luau asked.

“Best EVER,” Katie said before asking Brooke to close her window.

With Brooke’s fingers still on my lips, I answered too. “It was awesome,” I said. “And I’m exhausted.”

Katie asked Brooke to close her window again. Brooke shrieked. Luau told her she needed to put it up before we hit the highway.

She turned back to the window, then kissed my shoulder, then touched my lips, then turned back to the window. I settled into my seat and smiled.

Luau drove us home.

We were exhausted.

It was perfect.

 Thank you, Papa. 

5 thoughts on “new york part seven – memories

  1. My oldest daughter now 20 thinks only weirdos dress up in costumes for work and after the spider man ear blowing incident I have lost part of my argument lol. That said it looks like you and Katie had a magical trip for thirty hours you belonged only to her and I bet she will cherish that time.

  2. Thank you again and again for sharing this trip with us. I felt almost like I was there! It is a life long dream of mine to see New York exactly like this, well with one small difference…..I would want to see a baseball game 🙂

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