I was lucky to get a taxi, I thought - the streets around the train station were packed. Probably it would thin out once I got over to Fifth Avenue though- so many people take this week off.
But I always fail to remember that they take the week off in Muncie and Carson City and Pittsburgh, too, and that they all come here. In fact, they all come to 50th and Fifth, so they can see the tree. And go to shows. And shop. It took us fifteen minutes to go three blocks. I paid the driver and got out of the cab.
We have a movie about New York, I heard a girl say to her sister, what is it?
Maid in Manhattan, her sister answers.
No, the other one, the first sister persists.
Miracle on 34th Street, I said as I overtook and passed them at twice their speed. Before they had time to thank me properly, I was a block away.
Lunch proved difficult as well -- one of our number was stuck in a taxi on her way down from West End Avenue, and even when she got there all the places in the block were packed -- the kosher restaurant next door, where dozens of mothers had brought their children to have lunch with their diamond merchant papas around the corner from the 47th Street diamond district; Moran's, where there seemed to have been a party. We gave up, went to the deli and brought lunch back to PJ's office.
I had to meet Q at the train station by four for a Long Island train which, if we missed it, would not be on offer again for another hour. There would be no cab, so I set off on foot, slaloming madly around the other pedestrians, trailing my suitcase for the trip behind. But even so, I thought as I hurried, is there a better place to walk than here? Is there anywhere else I would rather be? No, there was not. Nowhere on earth.
New York would not be itself without its insane traffic, its crowded sidewalks, its noise and hurry. None of us would be who we are without our annoyances. We would be lotus-eaters: limp with languid well-being, unfamiliar with any challenge and utterly unable to stiffen to meet one. I will have none of it.
Bless the cars and the sidewalks. Bless Macy's window and every skater in Rockefeller Center. Bless the tree, so near to the end of its glorious final chapter. And bless us all as we meet another New Year, challenge enough for anyone.