Saturday, April 17, 2010

Two funny aha's

My stepfather gave me a great CD of Rosemary Clooney, and it has this song with these lyrics:

Do You Miss New York?

Written By: Dave Frishberg

Since I took a left and moved out to the coast
From time to time I find myself engrossed
With other erstwhile denizens of the apple
While we sit around and take L.A. to task
There’s a question someone’s bound to ask
And with this complex question we must grapple

Do you miss New York?
The anger
The action
Does this laid back lifestyle lack
A certain satisfaction
Do you ever burn to pack and return
To the thick of it
Are you really sick of it
Like you always say
Do you miss the pace
The rat race
The racket
And if you had to face it now
Do you still think you could hack it
When you’re back in town for a quick look around
How is it
Does it feel like home
Or just another nice place to visit?
And were those halcyon days
Just a youthful phase you outgrew?
Tell me
Do you miss New York
Do you miss New York
Do you miss the strain
The traffic
The tension
Do you view your new terrain
With a touch of condescension
And on this quiet street
Is it really as sweet as it seems out here
Do you dream your dreams out here
Or is that passé
Do you miss the scene
The frenzy
The faces
And did you trade
The whole parade
For a pair of parkin’ places?
And if the choice
Would you still choose to do it all again
Do you find yourself in line to see Annie Hall again
And do you ever run into that guy
Who used to be you?
Tell me
Do you miss New York?

Me too

I had two funny aha's yesterday. One of Lily's teachers, whom we adore and are trying to get together with for dinner, is moving to New York City. Her husband got a tenure-track position in his field, astronomy, and hey, you really can't turn that down. They'd lived in Brooklyn for some time, or at least she had, so she knows what she's getting into. But in just, what two or three years here, she's built a life and is so close to the other two teachers on her team (Lily's teachers) that she's dedicated her travel book about Ireland to them. She was practically in tears talking about it, how much she doesn't want to go, how much she loves it here, her friends, her community.

And I realized I would never ever want to move back to New York City. Nothing against it, y'all, I'm not dissing the Great Apple or anyone who lives there, it's just that I have so thoroughly landed here, and all that it means--my drive to school takes my breath away every time I do it--that I just do not, not, not miss New York City or my beloved Brooklyn. I'd love to see my friends, and truly, that's what I miss:

I miss people who know me very well, who've known me for many many years, decades of years in many cases, or whom I have connected with so deeply that it feels like decades. I miss those looooong chats about kids and work and careers and college and family and getting older. It's lovely to have friends like those.

As to my second point, I was heading up the road to have lunch with my dear friend George, an old friend from New York who fits the above bill but whom I simply do not see enough of, and about 50 yards ahead of me I saw a young black bear lumber across the road. My first thought was, "Bear!" and my next immediate thought was, "big dog," but that was more out of instinctual fear, I think, than reality. I knew that was a bear, a youngster, but a bear, nonetheless.

The road to George's is lovely, treelined, narrow, and as you come up in to his town it opens up into farm land and you get one of those dime-a-dozen but always spectacular views of mountains, in this case the range east of the river and north of Amherst whose names I don't know. George has the perfect, most wonderful house, and we talked and talked about life and work and the old days and what everyone else we'd worked with was doing, and family, and what it's like to be a transplanted New Yorker living here.

As I said goodbye I told George I will always be grateful to him for urging me to move here and making me feel both welcome and like it was actually doable. He noted how hard it is to get someone out of New York in the first place, but once you do, you don't look back. At least he hasn't: He said he hadn't been there in four years. Wow! We go back at least a couple times a year, and also Dave's mom lives on Long Island. But I can see our visits getting longer apart, especially as Lily gets older and once--I'm betting money on this--she goes to college there. She still has the place in her blood. We took her out too soon for her taste, although she really likes it now, now that she's settled in her new school and has some friends.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The cusp of spring

It's just coming. The parking lot behind Thorne's downtown is full of white blossoms--are they cherries? I don't know but it reminds me of Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn right about now, the callery pears all in bloom all at once, and just for a single week. My favorite week of the year. Lily and I would stand looking down at about 7 at night and try to come up with words to describe it: goose down. ice cream. pillows. clouds. Lovely, in the soft street lights.

And here we have lots of forsythia, and the magnolia behind our house is bursting into purple-ish booms, and daffodils and a whole bunch of stuff I don't know the names of. I got a delivery of mulch today from Lashway, the whole nine yards, as they say, a big truck load, and the back tilts up and up and up and the mulch pours out. In the fall Lashway brings us a couple of cords of firewood and in the spring we get mulch, which we split with our neighbors. I need to find someone to deliver topsoil so I can fill in the holes in my yard. On Sunday I gathered a wheelbarrow's worth of twigs off the front yard and barely scratched the surface of what's there, but it was enough kindling for several fires.

Spring is here, solidly, and the weather is spring-like: that new green emerging in the trees, the flowers, the crisp mornings and sunny afternoons, the blue skies, and the occasional cold rains. Last week was positively hot but this week it's been cold enough in the mornings that I light a fire to study by. It takes the chill off.

I've decided that when I study I need it warmer than other times because I am sitting still for so long. I sit in the hot air blowing out and Chance comes and sits on the table next to me and presents her belly to be rubbed, knocking over the salt shaker in the process. I used to throw her off but she just comes immediately back up, so now I don't bother. It sure is nice to be loved.

Scary foxes

I was walking out of my bookgroup last week -- it's a block group for the most part, so the commute is great -- and heard a terrible shriek. What's that, someone asked. It was about 10 o'clock and the night was very dark and there are no streetlights on our cul de sac; people bring flashlights when they visit each other at night, and I leave on the light at the end of my driveway as much for courtesy as for convenience. The sound was disheartening to say the least.

A bird, I said, trying to sound confident. No, no bird, not at this time of night, someone said. Pause. That's a fox.

Huh? A fox? A fox? We have foxes? Foxes make noises? Turns out they make a lot of noises. Here's a link to fox sounds.

This one was a scary sound, disconcerting enough that I had to force myself not to run home, but walk calmly. It sounded like it was coming from my house, or immediately behind it. I told myself the only fox worth being scared of is a rabid one. But hey, what do I know? I was happy to walk in my door.

I think this was the sound I heard, the territorial cry. Doesn't sound so bad on my computer right now, but imagine it right outside your door. At any rate, I am reminded of it now because we just heard it again tonight, somewhat further off in the woods. It gave us all the creeps and Lily was particularly wigged out. She said Chance was fascinated, staring out the window. We have cats around here, and fishers, and coyotes. Someone could easily have been eating someone else, but who knows. Who wins in a fox-cat fight? I'm sure the fisher and coyote win. Another reason we don't let Chance out at night.