I didn’t write yesterday, because sometimes I need to just consider what it is that I’m really trying to say. If what I write seems like meaningless drivel to anyone who reads it, it most certainly is not meaningless to me.
Back to my trip. After I got back to the LIRR station in Freeport on Monday morning, There was a gentleman who I had seen earlier riding the escalator to the platform. He was kind of tottering along the platform, very shaky, and I could see a can wrapped in a plastic bag. People don’t carry sodas hidden like that, and I could just tell, looking at the man that he was addicted to alcohol. (As they say, “it takes one to know one.”) He was asking people who were waiting for trains for two dollars, and nobody would give it to him. I knew that he needed that two dollars for his next beer, and he was probably getting a little panicky about his next drink, or possibly, the lack of the next drink.
I know that feeling because I’ve been there. I’ve been where I cannot conceive of not having another drink, and having to go through the withdrawal from alcohol. Even though I’ve never really been without the money to support the addiction, I have written checks knowing that they would bounce, but also with the knowledge that I could make good on it in a week or two. I have been in that place at times, where if I didn’t have the money for another drink, I would have probably have gone out and begged for it. So, I knew what fear and desperation was driving this poor man. There was no thought on his part of getting high, or drunk. There was only the thought of getting the next one to stave off the withdrawal. He would worry about the one after that when he needed it. He needed the next one now. Any way, I gave him the two dollars, even though I knew he was going to drink it. Looking back I wish I’d given him more, but at least he could survive for another couple of hours.
When I got back into Manhattan, I decided to hang out for awhile since I had no pressing need to be back home. I asked a cop in Grand Central if there were lockers anymore, and there aren’t. So I had to carry my bags. I decided to walk the four blocks or so up 42nd St. to Bryant Park. It was absolutely glorious! A sunny day, warm but breezy, and tons of places to sit in the shade. I picked myself a spot, and observed my surroundings. The top of the Empire State Building peeked out from behind smaller luxury apartment buildings. Directly across the green from me, rising twenty or so stories into the skyline, was the Bryant Park Hotel. It was obviously of late 19th Century design and build, and just viewing the exterior brought visions of it’s heyday, when carriages pulled by large horses would deposit nattily dressed men and fashionable ladies at it’s door, maybe for afternoon tea, or a getaway from the hectic city life. Straight across the green on the opposite corner was yet another new Manhattan skyscraper rising into the New York sky. Only the steel on each floor had been built, with two of those huge elevated cranes extending hundreds of feet higher, waiting for the next loads of I-beams and girders to lift into place.
I sat and “people watched”, one of my favorite activities. There were tourists, urbane Manhattanites, Moms with kids, teenage girls sunbathing, babies eating watermelon. Folks strolled along, holding hands, some were big, tough looking guys, some were small, tougher looking women! Elderly couples, young lovers, all reveling in the comfort and security that the touch of a lover’s hand can bring. Or they sat at the little metal tables and talked earnestly. About what? About all the mysteries of the world, I would guess.
I took a few photos, some of the people, some of the park. There was an outdoor cafe behind me, already filling up at 11:30 in the morning. I decided to have some lunch, and something cold to drink. People watching is thirsty work. I sat at a tall table with a stool next to the bar, not wanting to tie up an entire table. In the past, I would have shunned being near the bar, but now, I took little notice of it. It turned out though, to be the route to a quickly served lunch! While there, I met a couple from New Jersey, Kenny and “Lovely.” (That’s what her kids, nieces and nephews called her, so, she said, I could too.) We chatted about all kinds of things, the remarks the NBA team owner had made, the wondrous improvement to the city since the 70’s when you were literally taking your life into your own hands by going there. We discovered that Kenny was a member of the 1972 Mt. Vernon High School basketball team that beat my Fox Lane High School for the state section championship. I was not on my high school team, but I was certainly at the game! It was wonderful meeting these folks, and the new me thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. The old me would have struggled for things to say, and I would have doubted myself as to whether they liked me or not.