Originally posted on November 18, 2008. Florence had just died and like any reasonable insane adult in denial about grief, I jumped into a heartbreaking affair immediately after. Who else could I have sought out to pour bewilderment and confusion onto a dinner table, but her. When someone knows the molecules that built you, they are the only ones who know how to guide those pieces back when everything else falls apart. Today is her birthday. I do not understand those numbers for myself or for her. The minute I lay eyes on her I only see us, teenagers, her wilder and braver and me wishing I could be, running happy through the streets of Our New York. A Happy Birthday to my dearest friend.
This is one of my oldest friends. We met when we were twelve.
Before that I was on Grand Street, which was tough, and she was on 109th Street and Riverside, which was dangerous. We didn't know any different and if you ran fast enough it really didn't matter.
How my then 17-year-old sister decided we should meet and how she, with me in tow, traversed the many bus and train lines from the lower east side to the upper west side to make sure we did I don't know, but within minutes of meeting one another this other twelve year old and I became the best of friends.
In the ensuing three decades we spoke all the time, we didn't speak for years, we survived a new age spiritual community together, we recovered from that community apart, I visited her when she ran away to the then delapitated Fifth Avenue Hotel to be a 15 year old groupie, she was the only example I had of successful defiance, I was a bridesmaid when she married a man, host to her and her young girlfriend at the time after she left her husband and then host again to her and her current boyfriend, and during the recent New York City blackout in 2003, even though we hadn't spoken in years, stranded, she knew to come my house and spend the night.
So during my own blackout where the lights in my heart disappeared I knew to come to her and on a rainy night at the tiny French restaurant older than how long we knew each other, just as worn and welcoming as the home we felt for one another, the food as comforting as our affection for one another, a relief spreading across a tiny table, we were reminded that 40 years of friendship held dear and strong through loss and storm and and change.
No new words were said. But walking down the streets of our shared history, an emotional neighborhood that hadn't been obliteraged by sudden and not-so-sudden events, an internal city we didn't have to explain to one another, old familiar words offered new hope.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.