11 February 2006


With long hours, hard work, some extra money, decided birthday present one year was to be a trip, to a city with snow. A week before the holidays: arrived in Manhattan, for the first time. It snowed sharp beautiful evening of arrival, on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, birthday, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, last day. Gifts….

First day: got into a cab, pulled the door closed. The driver turned all the way around in his seat and no preamble said: “I came to this country when I was 15, alone. I worked and dreamed about going back to Italy –about seeing my family. I worked, saved, and scrimped and finally my dream happened: I went back –but I forgot about the stairs. In my mind I was 15 –but my mother, most of my family were dead. I could not climb. I had an old man’s legs. I forgot about all the steps.” Stunned into silence…a week from 33rd birthday. Silently got out. He drove away. Gifts….

Every street: magnificent doors, windows full of secrets –everywhere a couple stopped, kissed…New Yorkers angled around out-of-towner savoring all of it...the city of Edith Wharton...Bogart... gangsters... glamour girls, Sugar Daddies... pots that didn't ever melt...all of it far better than the movies…didn’t want to leave, changed departure date, asked a concierge what was possible that day. Headed for art exhibit at beautiful museum with directions & bad advice, wrong closing time; struggled to go in as tons poured out. Finally grabbed door handle –security guard glared, growled: “You can’t come in.” Deep disappointment, sadness must have uncovered while walking backwards, slowly, trying to see in/up…with an angry gesture he half hollered “can you be Right Here –6 pm sharp?” Nodded vigorously. Door slammed shut. When he opened it: treasures –floors of gallery after gallery –private silent thrilling exhibition, for two…Gifts.

IheardthenewstodayOhboy: a neighbor died. “He was okay with it, he had finished his work, his body no longer served him”…he went to sleep and did not wake up. Gifts.... Everything you do matters…given gifts…finite amount of time…use your power…act. Everything you do matters.

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