Miss Elizabeth Benney, my first NYC roommate, without whom I never would have lasted a year in this city, is packing her boxes. Her man Abe has arrived to take her back to Half Moon Bay, California.
Tonight represents a real New York City changing of the guard.
I'm holding two varieties of shredder in that photo. One is a document shredder, defeated by the last eight years of Benney's pay stubs. The other is my dad's old sled that I left uptown when I moved, for snowy days at Central Park. I got some funny looks carrying that home on the train tonight.
Ever the narcissist, on my way to see Miss Benney tonight I took a moment to make it all about me and go for a stroll down memory lane, also known as West 86th Street. I started almost at Riverside, at the Dexter House, now apparently the Dexter House Hotel.
This was the first place I lived, pre-Elizabeth. I don't remember "Hotel" being part of the name when I slept on a Murphy bed, cooked on a hot plate and shared a bathroom in the hall with the cast from a Joseph Mitchell story. It looks pretty nice now, but let me tell you...when I found my bedroom at Miss Benney's place I think I cried tears of joy.
Here's a photo I took that first winter on West 86th Street. I must have taken this out of the Dexter House's (public hallway) bathroom window, cause the one in my room was about eight inches from a brick wall. It would not be an exaggeration to say the city was a cold lonely place before I met Miss Benney.
She gave me the keys the day I met her in her little sage green kitchen, and before long we had made her terrace into a tomato plantation.
There's my sweet friend Tianna, who visited from D.C. a few years ago. She was one of many who slept in the loft above Elizabeth's room--a little nook with a mattress, quilt and lamp for those far from home, both literally and figuratively. Elizabeth kept watch over us all from her bed below in her green room.
Tonight outside her bedroom door to the terrace, the moon was a perfect half. Clearly it's time for Elizabeth's move to Half Moon Bay. So...
Goodnight, diner. Goodnight, cab.