Pocket Parks of NYC
Symphony House on 8th Ave. & 56th St.
One of the many reasons I love New York City is the Viviens I meet. While stopping at Symphony House, a park of 8th & 56th, I met her. She was out for a walk on a beautiful September day. She had a small purse secured to her walker and every now and then, a tissue fell out of her sleeve. Her first words to me were, “Are you a tourist?” to which I replied, “Not really,” and we were off.
Vivien asked if I was tourist because the park was suddenly inundated with children getting out of school, picture-taking visitors and the odd worker out of his office for a break. Most of the latter quickly left as soon as the children arrived. They were boisterous to say the least.
While all of this was going on around us, I learned that Vivien was 93-years-old, had gotten a graduate degree at a time when women barely left the home to work let alone study for an advanced degree, and had spent her years working in the schools while her children grew up on Long Island. After that, she did what I want to do when my children are grown and have left the nest. I want to move to New York City. She was living my dream.
The reason she asked me if I was a tourist, she told me, is that they frequently walk away when you strike up a conversation with them. Actually, I am always on the lookout for crazy people who want to talk to me when I stop for a moment while walking in NYC, but when they look relatively normal, I let myself enjoy their story. If they start sounding strange or ramble on, I extricate myself politely and go on my way.
Vivien was not one of the crazies. She was a bright spot in a busy day, letting me know you can always enjoy life, even if it’s simply by taking a walk around the corner to sit and people-watch for fifteen minutes on a sunny day. If you are reading this, Vivien, thank you for a lovely few minutes of conversation in Symphony House Park.