Weekend Note:
Longer Weekends
14 May 2012

Just a quick note, the first of several, perhaps, this one to say that I’m home. We’re home — but the bags are not home. As for me, this is not the worst thing in the world; my suitcase contains nothing but books and clothes, all of which, presumably, can be re-acquired if the bag has been truly lost. That’s probably not what happened, though. We switched flights in Heathrow after checking in, and our bags are probably in Newark, our original destination.

Otherwise, all is well, and a visit from the downtown branch of the family has been scheduled. It is very good to sit in my reading chair and to shower in plumbing about which there is nothing exotic. Also: how nice to drink tea, not tea-bags, again.


How pleasant it is, to sit at my console in New York, and to review the route that our taxi took from London to Heathrow yesterday afternoon. I can now say that I have had a nice taste of Acton and Ealing — and Southall. Isn’t that nice? We detoured from the Northern Circular Road (A406), along what for most of our way seems to be known as Uxbridge Road (A4020), to the Parkway (A312). As we inched along with the suburban traffic, congested by Saturday shopping, I was carried back to the childhood horrors of Central Avenue and downtown White Plains, captives of my mother’s sporting jaunts in pursuit of bargain specials, which she saw no reason to leave to people who really needed them. When we drove by the psychiatric unit at St Bernard’s, I dreamed for a moment of being committed there for a rest cure; anything would have been preferable to the experience of sitting in a car at two or three miles an hour.   


Although beguiled by visions of a nice dinner at home, prepared by me and served with love &c, I had the sense to recognize that I was simply too tired to stand in the kitchen and whip something up. So we went to the Seahorse Tavern, our current Café Default. Not three minutes after we got back, the phone rang. Are you at home, the voice wanted to know. It was a voice connected to our baggage. Oh, yes, I was at home! And I’d be downstairs in a minute! Downstairs, there was a van in the driveway, and a man shuffling things in the back, but looking at me, as I looked at him. “Keefe?” he inquired. Hallelujah! That was my huge green sofa of a suitcase in his hands. What about Kathleen’s bag? Nowhere to be seen in the back. “It’s got flowers,” I said, by way of marking the Vera Bradleyness of Kathleen’s luggage. Oh, that! he said. That bag had the passenger seat of his van all to itself.

So, now we have our bags, and I have to tell you that what really bothered me about not having them was the books. Not the clothes, which would cost a pretty penny to replace (me being moi, maxi avoirdupois), but the books. The books that I had bought in the teeth of a determination to buy, if not no books, then  as few as possible. Glorious as it was to see Will this afternoon, it would have been gloriouser if I’d had Groene eieren met ham on hand. (Not that I’m remotedly capable of reading it aloud to him, not yet.) The books meant so much! And I could not convince myself that it was going to be easy to replace them. The Shakespeare sonnets that I wrote about the other day, and that I was telling Kathleen about on our way home from dinner! Nescio! The great Routledge dictionary that I picked up at the Athenaeum! It was going to be like reconstituting the Library of Alexandria, getting all those books a second time. 

Only, now it isn’t. They’re here.

Until this afternoon, I had no idea that Carl Schurz Park contains ten thousand miles of paths and four hundred thousand stairs. All Will wanted to do was to cover all of them, down to the last inch, several times if possible. He had no interest in playgrounds or dog runs. (He did exhibit, as I’ve noticed before, a fascination with the twelve year-old juvenile delinquents who gathered like a pack of crows at the bottom of the allée: my grandson, the would-be teen.) He wanted to move, and move we did. We walked; Will galloped. Or cantered, I suppose it was. His hopping around stirred Kathleen’s nostalgia. “When I did that, I pretended that I was holding a crop.”

The trick that really captured my atttention was his crying out “Water!” while pointing in the correct direction, blocks from the park and any conceivable view of the East River. Somehow, he remembered — he hasn’t been to Carl Schurz since early last fall.

It was the first thing that occurred to me, once I knew that I was really going to Amsterdam and London with Kathleen, and returning on a Saturday. Would Megan and Ryan and Will come uptown on brunch on the Sunday? Kathleen and I would be tired, really too tired to go downtown ourselves, but we would really want to see Will and his parents. What I hadn’t expected was that Will would give us the introductory tour to a neighborhood park that we had somehow, in the course of thirty years’ residence, missed.

Having looked at the image below far far longer than is decent, I feel obliged to apoligize for its MGM character. We really were having a great time.