During a visit to Sunnyside, Queens, we came back into my friend's building after errands. There behind the stairwell was an open door to an old fashion apartment, maybe the kind you would see if Scorsese made family movies.
"Super's apartment?" I asked.
And that made me wonder and yearn for those times when, on hot summer days, doors were left open.
Originally posted August 17, 2010
In those days, only the fancy apartments or rich people uptown had air conditioners. So, during hot summer days and nights, Florence, along with all the neighbors, would prop open her front door and hope for a breeze to waft in from the stairwell's window facing Columbia Street.
From all those many opened doors, all the different lives would drift up and down filling the stairs with television commercials, occasional conversations shouted from one room to the next and the smells of a billion things cooking for shabbos or Sunday dinner - all of it weaving in and out of the village of thirty-five apartments.
One late night at home, during a heat wave that had gone on for days and with only a tiny air conditioner in the bedroom, I propped open my front door in hopes of relief. A breeze blew in from the airshaft. And as it did, the cat ran out, unable to resist the cool of 100 year old marble floors. I tried to catch him until, feeling better for the first time in days, I realized he had a good point.
Soon after, like Florence, I began opening my front door into a cool deep night. The cat and I wandered the stairs, listening to our neighbors sleep and humming along with all the air conditioners in the airshaft. And after our stroll, the two of us sat in the still and the silence.
I miss the normalcy of open doors during hot days and sleepless nights, and when my door is closed because the neighbors are awake, I miss my mother.
Wherever You Go, There You Are. Sometimes in Queens
In the Still of the Night, the Sound of Silence
Walkin' After Midnight
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