It is almost impossible to put into words how thrilled I was to get all the 'welcome back' comments after resuming my blog. I am slowly realising how many great people there are out there in cyberspace - thank you.
Reading the senior daughter's descriptions of the Fall in and around New York, I have been gripped with an intense jealousy and feelings of nostalgia. For 17 years, I have visited America many times, and especially have loved visiting New York and the East Coast. We always visited New York on business in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. I used to so look forward to it. Over the years, we did so many interesting things, and got to know the city so well.
On arrival at JFK, my heart used to lift as we queued for a cab, and I always used to appreciate the orderly way that the queue was managed, everyone getting a ticket, and the cabs arriving, loading and departing in double quick time. I got a buzz as we sped Manhattanwards, bumping over the Triborough bridge, as I silently used to plot and plan my time whilst my husband had business meetings.
I grew to know New York so well that it was never a problem to move around. I had my itinerary/shopping/culture set in stone. In no particular order, it went something like this - Dean and DeLuca in SoHo for great spices, cooking utensils and unusual foody Christmas presents, Kate's Paperie and Crane's for stationery, Cole Haan, Banana Republic on Fifth, Strand Books, the Metropolitan Museum on Sunday morning followed by brunch at the Carlyle, the Metropolitan Opera, which was the most fantastic experience. Everyone dressed up, there was a great sense of occasion. The operas we saw were magical, the stagings always traditional, how I loved the atmosphere. I remember the old barman in the hotel where we used to stay, who mixed great cocktails, the trip to Ellis Island with friends who had joined us on that particular trip, and afterwards they took us to lunch with friends of theirs who lived in an apartment in Battery Park. I always bought my Christmas cards and desk diaries from the MoMA shop, and Christmas bits and pieces from Crate and Barrel. I especially loved a visit to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens with both daughters two summers ago. I loved to walk, exploring and each time, discovering another neighbourhood. how spoilt I was, and how I enjoyed it all, and now, Thanksgiving is approaching, and I will not be returning.
Last year, the first autumn on my own, I did return, to see the senior daughter. We had an amazing time, we went upstate by train from Penn Station to an organic farm, to a wonderful concert at the Metropolitan, to the Cloisters, the annexe of the Metropolitan Museum, oh, we had a brilliant time. She introduced me to her neighbourhood beauty salon, my hair was done beautifully by a Japanese girl, and I had a wonderful massage by a girl from Beijing. I have such happy memories to fall back on. I can smell New York, see the steam rising from the gratings in the street, feel the crisp air in the early morning as I set out for my day's adventures, hear the cab's honking, smell the chestnuts roasting on the stalls on the street corners, the continual noise of the sirens on the police cars, remember craning my neck to look up at the vast skyscrapers, the excited children queueing to get into F A O Schwartz, the ultimate toy store, and the tourists crowding Tiffany's, to look rather than buy. How I miss it. How lucky I was to be able to enjoy it, and how lucky I am to have the memories. New York got under my skin, and one day I will return.
Nostalgia is an interesting emotion - for a while, after I was first on my own, my memory seemed dulled and nothing was clear. But - now - nostalgia has crept in and suddenly, everything is recalled with crystal clarity, and I hug these memories which are flooding back, the smells, the sounds, triggered each time by some tiny thread which jolts the consciousness. I find this fascinating, because for years I have rather sniffed at people who write autobiographies late in life, recalling minutiae which happened many years before. Now - I realise, for the first time in my life that it is perfectly possible to do so, although I still think a little poetic licence must be involved. I certainly do not recall what my nanny said to me at the age of three. But I do remember her name, and that she had a hairy mole on her chin!
I have so much to do today - boring domestic chores. It is drizzling with rain, the dogs are supine, gently snoring, and even a walk holds no temptation for the three of us. It is time for another mug of freshly ground coffee, and perhaps that will fire me with domesticity. Actually, I prefer the Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword.
2 hours ago