Where did everybody go?
I have to admit to being almost panicky to look at my blog now that I'm back in the sort of real everyday world (not that I was very far by any outward measure). I have that college feeling of squinting/cringing at a 3 AM drunken email sent out the night before when using terrible judgement. Unfortunately I was never more than barely, mildly buzzed on this trip but at night I really was writing hunched over this miniscule computer with the light from the microwave door open trying not to make any noise. Either that, or like I said yesterday, writing while I was supposed to be unloading the car with Alex and then quickly hitting Publish Post and banging closed the laptop when he "caught" me.
You know how sometimes returning from a short trip is stranger than returning from a long one? You just can't get over the fact that you only left on Thursday and now it's Monday early evening and usually all you would have done in that weekend was go to the playground a few times and get a few groceries and have friends over for dinner. But here you like catapulted through all these different versions of yourself and had those nights where you think back to the day and say, "No, no, no that awkward scene with Lenore over the croissants could not have happened this morning" or "The slip and slide could not have been today" but you go back, hour by hour, and it somehow was.
Whenever I return from even a few days away, this apartment feels again like my grandmother's. I don't know if it's something about the smell of just like the peeling paint or powder soaked into the bathroom rug or what it is. Or if it's just a trick of memory.
For years--for my whole life really-- this Chelsea apartment was the center of New York. Now that I live here it no longer feels that way. Miriam's death marked the end of her generation, the end of that nucleus, and without the band of Jacobson sisters pushing their way through Macy's or waiting in line at the 2nd Avenue Deli (no longer on 2nd avenue) or bringing us to Broadway shows, it's, as my cousin Audrey said, a different New York. And it's not only the sisters that are gone, but the sons and daughters and grandchildren who visited them, who swirled through with bagels and bags full of sweaters that "might fit somebody", who flew in for birthdays and anniversaries, who added joy and confusion to holiday dinners, who brought over kosher wine that nobody ended up drinking. I like the continuity of living here. I like bringing Wally to a playground my sister and I used to go to as children. But sometimes it feels like I'm the only one left on the island. The only one that knows the whole history. I sit on benches and watch a thousand people pass by me in an hour, and think, "Where did everybody go?"