Fifth Day

So much to remember. I feel like I should have been writing this as I walked around. There was an article in a recent New Yorker about some guy at MIT who was recording every detail of his life. I got the feeling he didn’t have too much life since he was spending so much time recording.

I keep thinking about how different New York and Pittsburgh are. I’ve gotten in the habit of greeting strangers as I pass them on the street. Pittsburghers do that. So as I pass each person I want to greet them, but mostly they don’t make eye contact. Of course, there are so many people here you could spend all of your time saying hello. I have noticed, though, that people women my age will smile and sometimes say hello. We elders have to stick together.

I began the day in Chinatown to meet Shirley Sun. I got there early and wandered around Canal Street. The fish are beautiful and so are the fruit and vegetables. There was a new one today: dragon fruit. Shirley says it’s really called fire dragon fruit and she doesn’t like it. She also translated longans as dragon’s eyes and said we would never buy them if the name was translated. I wanted to buy a dragon fruit, but I can never buy anything when I am with her because she insists on paying. I’ll try to get back to Chinatown and get the dragon fruit and some wonderful looking raw figs that were for sale. I would do all my food shopping there if I lived nearby.

I met Shirley at the Confucius statue in Chatham Square, our usual meeting place. Our destination 27 Seafood Restaurant was too crowded so we went down the block to 88 Palace, neither of which have many western patrons. We had chrysanthemum tea, taro puffs, har gao and shrimp chung fun and lots of conversation. Her English keeps getting worse since I am the only one she knows who can’t speak Chinese with her. I didn’t say anything about trying to learn Mandarin; I could only remember two words while I was with her.

I left Shirley on the subway and went up to the Met to meet Jean. Again, I was early so I spent the time back at the Japanese art galleries studying the things I rushed through yesterday. In order to preserve them many of the objects are shown with very low light levels, making it difficult for me to see. Thinking about the things I want to look at in Japan, I wonder if I will have similar trouble. I would really like good, large size photographs, particularly of the folding screens, rakuchu rakugai zu, that inspired my trip.

Jean and I went to the Petrie Court, the expensive Met cafe, for tea. It turned out to be not too expensive and very pleasant and quiet, unlike the other Met watering holes. We each had a pot of sencha, a green tea, and split a wonderful lemon curd cheesecake, all with lots of conversation.

I met Jean at the Empire Quilters Guild, shortly after I moved to the east coast. We became friends almost immediately, she attributing it to our both being from the midwest. We have a lot of other things in common, also, both being more appreciators than creators at this time in our lives.

We sat and talked until closing. As we left the museum there was a big crowd gathered on the steps. Three African-American young men were talking to them and doing a performance of amazing acrobatics, one of them doing somersaults, or flips with his hands never touching the ground. Besides the incredible physical things they had a line of patter that was wonderful. The crowd kept growing until the entire area in front of the museum was filled with people, and they succeeded in collecting a lot of money, keeping everyone engaged, before they finished the act. You can see a similar performance here. I don’t know who they were but I can’t imagine they won’t do wonderful things in their lives.

After all that I had dinner with old friends, Phyllis and Tommy, with more great conversation.

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