I had an errand to do and nothing could put it off. My accountant, based in lower Broadway in Manhattan, was waiting, and up Broadway we walked.
The financial district remains trapped in a purgatory between winter and spring. Mufflers and gloves abounded. The buildings themselves seemed frozen. The sound of traffic in those narrow streets formed itself into a cartoon thought-balloon above my head.
The graveyard at Trinity Church on the corner of Wall Street and Broadway had nothing like what Walt Whitman called the “beautiful uncut hair of graves.” All the grass lay shorn and grayish-brown beneath the eroded ancient stones.
This isn’t the first Trinity Church. The original was destroyed by a fire that consumed a quarter of New York City during the Revolutionary War, leaving the steeple fallen and smoldering on the ground. The second, consecrated in 1790, was buffeted by severe snowstorms and deemed too risky to stand. The third went up in 1846. It boasted a spire that was magnificent, the tallest structure in Manhattan. The view from the church steeple became a fantastic tourist attraction and a romantic place to date.
This was the Canyon of Heroes. The most recent ticker tape parade on lower Broadway celebrated the New York Giants in honor of their Super Bowl XLVI championship in 2012, with 50 tons of confetti. And embedded in the sidewalk at regular intervals are the names of previous parade honorees.
Most of them date to the 1950s, it would seem. Were we more celebratory then?
Thames Street exists. I saw it with my own eyes for the first time today. Pronounced Thaymz. A band called All Time Low did a song about it.
I’ll take you out though I’m hardly worth your time,
In the cold you look so fierce, but I’m warm enough,
Because the tension’s like a fire.
We’ll head South Broadway in a matter of minutes,
And like a bad movie, I’ll drop a line,
Fall in the grave I’ve been digging myself,
But there’s room for two,
Six feet under the stars.
My accountant Sue’s office lets in the light of the harbor, though without the views. Positioned around the office were baby jade plants and elongated poinsettias left over from the holidays, depictions of angels and lollipop easter eggs. On a file cabinet, her pictured pugs, including the wiry one who kept Sue’s ill mother’s feet warm.
In front of Gil and me, untouched, a plastic bowl of peppermints. Sue can play the calculator blindfolded, one hand tied behind her back.
Gil and I engaged in some chest thumping, some head hanging, some soul searching, as we always do when we review our year’s finances. What does it mean to try to make it as a professional writer in America, in New York, in mid life? Is it worth it?
Sprung from there and resolved to keep better accounts in 2013, we stopped at Sullivan Street Bakery (located not on Sullivan Street but an industrial block in midtown). The loaf Gil brought out to the car was hot from the oven, crusty and chewy.
We tore off the top and gulped it down, finances (nearly) forgotten.
One more errand before picking up Maud in Morningside Heights on this surprisingly good Friday. My favorite store, Fairway, where the fishmonger asked if I preferred the male or female flounder filets. The female flesh, he explained, was paler, sweeter. I think he was serious.
The fishmonger would get in trouble, he said, if he allowed me to photograph his face in the store, and he turned his back toward the sink so that management wouldn’t abuse him.
His face was beautiful.