14th & Ave. B – Saturday 4jan2014

This is my last full day in NY and the weather remains very cold. I’m meeting a friend for dinner this evening and am in no rush to go out, but I don’t want to waste any part of my week here, so out I go and take the subway to 8th and 14th. The Highline (elevated walkway built on old railroad overpass) is only a few blocks away, and I decide to do that. The last time I walked it, was 3 years ago on a hot summer day and the crowding made it almost impassable.

I stop for lunch at diner on the corner of 9th. I’m seated near the back wall on the left hand side. I look up and at the front of the diner on the right, I see a stream of water gushing from the ceiling. It’s too cold to be melting snow, so a pipe must have burst. Half a dozen members of the staff are standing around staring up at the ceiling. The wait staff continues to take orders, serve food, and re-fill water glasses – and the others continue to gape at the torrent. The temperature in the diner drops quickly – I ask a waiter if the door is open , he says ‘No – we had to shut everything off.’ That seems to include the heat. The manager huddles with the staff. He tells them they’re staying open. I finish my rapidly cooling coffee and leave. Across the intersection, a large, heavy set man stops me and asks for 89 cents. He says he has 11 cents and needs to make a dollar. He’s hungry. He has tears in his eyes. I give him a $5 bill. He walks away. Part of me feels good; but a larger part of me feels bad. I just casually spent $20 for lunch and I wasn’t even hungry.

I walk the Highline – it’s freezing but still there are waves of tourists. Whole families and bundled babies in carriages and young couples taking pictures of each other. I walk to the end and take the stairs down to 30th street. I stop at a bagel shop for coffee and take a few minutes to warm up. Two bus drivers are huddled at the next table reviewing their schedules. I’m meeting my friend at the Fashion Institute of Technology; I walk down there and kill time by going through F.I.T.’s museum and a special exhibit celebrating the contributions of gay fashion designers.

I meet my friend and we have dinner at a restaurant near 23rd street. I congratulate him on his engagement to his long time partner. We talk about weddings, work and families. Nice way to end the week. Take subway back and finish the bottle of red wine, I bought on Thursday.

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