‘I Was Eating Ice Cream With a Friend in Washington Square Park ’

Personal Space

Dear Diary:

I was eating ice cream with a friend in Washington Square Park on a nice summer day. The park was filled with people, and every bench in the shade was taken.

After a while, we found a place to sit, and eventually the bench next to us opened up as well.

A man holding a picnic basket approached us and asked whether he could sit on the empty bench. He said people were very protective of their personal space and that was why he was asking.

We were confused but said yes and returned to our conversation.

A few minutes later, I looked over. The man had opened the picnic basket and inside it was a pigeon!

My friend and I just laughed and continued talking.

— Laura Taylor

Cruel January

Dear Diary:

When I moved from Los Angeles to New York City, I brought with me what I considered my “winter clothes”: a wool coat and leather boots.

The weather was mild the year I arrived, and I recall wondering why people always talked about the hard, cruel New York winters. My coat and boots served me just fine right through the following November and December.

Then came the next January, with single-digit temperatures and what seemed like unending snow. After a few days of enduring bone-chilling cold and trying to make my way through snow drifts, I realized that this was a real New York winter and that I was ill-equipped for it.

I went searching for a very warm coat and snow boots, which weren’t easy to find in mid-January because everyone else had done their shopping earlier.

I managed to find a coat at Saks but could not find any boots in my size anywhere in the city.

Finally, I ended up at Bloomingdale’s, where I saw racks of snow boots. Hooray!

But the smallest size I could find was a 9 ½ and I take a 7.

I approached a salesman.

“Do you have any snow boots in a size 7?” I asked.

“Madam,” he said, “if you wanted snow boots in a size 7, you should have bought them in November.”

I can proudly say I now own of three pairs of snow boots that I dutifully get out of storage every November.

Michal Longfelder


Dear Diary:

a certain kind of love,
The type
That’s precise,
Clear cut like the new buds of spring,
Only a grandmother could bring
It to the table,
A memory that comes unexpected,
Like a hot wind through the canyons,
When I touch the bracelet she bought me
Many moons ago,
A rhinestone
From a dime store on Broadway,
It sparkles
Like a moonbeam over the Hudson,
And moves mountains.

— Kathryn Anne Sweeney-James

Shut-off Wrench

Dear Diary:

I was walking home to my apartment in Park Slope on a clear night when I heard a loud sound of running water. I looked around and noticed that the brownstone next to the one where I live was flooded.

This building had been empty for months and there had been a recent cold front. I figured that a pipe must have burst.

I called 911 and the Fire Department responded quickly. The main water line was beneath the sidewalk, and one of the firefighters was twisting a large shut-off wrench to turn the water off.

“The water is still running,” another firefighter yelled out.

“Oh right,” the one with the wrench said. “Righty, tighty; lefty, loosey.”

He turned the wrench the other way, and the water stopped running.

— Rebecca Silverman

Subway Sandwich

Dear Diary:

I got on the Q at 96th Street. I was on my way to Hell’s Kitchen to grab a quick dinner before watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

A woman got on at 86th Street and sat right next to me. She was probably in her 50s, had a full head of curly blond hair and was getting off a call since she was about to lose service.

As we approached 72nd Street, the woman searched through her purse and pulled out a sandwich: smoked salmon on pumpernickel bread.

The train was packed, but she was determined to eat this sandwich. As we approached 63rd Street, she started to rummage through her bag again. This time, she pulled out a pepper grinder.

Apparently oblivious to everyone around her, she disassembled the sandwich, ground some fresh pepper onto the salmon and put the grinder back in her bag. Then she started eating.

Now everyone was staring at her. Some people were chuckling to themselves.

“Wow,” one man said to the woman. “That was quite the experience. Never seen that one before.”

She cleared her throat and smiled.

“This is New York City,” she said. “I always carry my pepper grinder. You never know when you’ll need it.”

— Lala Tanmoy Das

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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