‘As We Walked, We Passed Two Women Sitting on Folding Chairs’


Dear Diary:

One evening last spring, my husband and I were strolling in the Village after having dinner out. I was about five months pregnant at the time.

As we walked, we passed two women sitting on folding chairs outside a psychic’s storefront with a table of cards and candles between them.

“August,” one of them said, pointing at my belly.

We continued walking.

“A boy, right?” the other shouted.

I turned around and nodded exuberantly.

“Well, you would know!” I shouted back.

— Emily Toder

Matzo Ball Soup

Dear Diary:

On an October morning, my girlfriend and I dashed up Fifth Avenue through a bitterly cold and driving rain to the Frick Collection. Our pocket umbrellas did little to protect us.

When we arrived, the security guards checked our bags while rainwater puddled at our feet. We were soaked, but the museum was cozy and warm.

As we wandered, a guard even agreed to look the other way while we took photos of a beautifully arranged collection of porcelain plates. (She admired them, too.)

Afterward, still chilled after our soggy start, we decided to find a nearby lunch spot for a bowl of hot soup. We decided to go to a deli famous for matzo balls that was directly east of where we were and somewhere around Second Avenue.

The rain had stopped, but the trees were still full of water. Big heavy drops landed on the sidewalk all around us. As we hurried along 70th Street, an older woman who was walking a dog stopped us.

She said she had lived in the neighborhood for decades but had lost her way: Failing eyesight had clouded her sense of direction.

Once we helped her get reoriented, she asked where we were headed.

“For matzo ball soup off Second Avenue,” we exclaimed. “Why — do you want to go there?”

She gasped in alarm. Reorienting us this time, she pointed across the street.

“The only place to go is right there,” she said.

She may have been losing her eyesight, but she knew her way around a bowl of matzo ball soup. She was right: It was delicious!

— Janet Suddell

‘Lovely Day’

Dear Diary:

It was a warm spring evening in 2019. My boyfriend and I were walking through Brooklyn Bridge Park with another couple after dinner.

As we came around a bend, I heard the song “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers coming from a small party of picnickers. Whenever I hear the song, it stops me in my tracks and I am filled with emotion as I was that evening.

A man with the picnic group approached us and asked whether I was OK.

I told him that “Lovely Day” had been my husband’s “theme song” when he was sick and that we had played it at his funeral.

The man took my hand, introduced me to the rest of his party and told his friends about my history with the song.

Suddenly, we were all dancing, hugging and singing along.

— Jan Testori-Markman

Kerala Sari

Dear Diary:

It was late September 2019. I was walking in East River Park on my way to the East Village. I had on a white and gold Kerala sari that I had worn for an event at my children’s school near Kips Bay.

Despite New Yorkers’ well-earned reputation for not batting an eye at other people’s outfits, I had gotten quite a few thumbs-ups and double takes for mine.

I smiled, acknowledged them all and walked on toward my destination, East 10th Street and Avenue A.

As I paused to cross at 10th Street and Avenue C, I heard a woman calling out to me.

I turned to see a South Asian woman in her late 40s or early 50s running toward me and waving for me to stop.

“Is that a Kerala sari?” she asked, panting a bit.

“Yes,” I replied, smiling.

“You must think I’m crazy,” she said, “but I’ve lived in this city for 35 years, and I’ve never seen someone in a Kerala sari just walking down the street.”

“I moved here from Kerala in ’84,” she continued. “My mom passed away last year, and now I own all her saris. I’ve never worn them but seeing you walk down the street is my mom giving me a sign. May I give you a hug?”

We hugged right there at the corner of 10th and C. With teary eyes, she wished me a good day, and we went our separate ways.

— Shweta Ganesh Kumar

For Some Reason

Dear Diary:

While strolling through SoHo, I stopped at a popular deli for lunch.

As the waiter approached with a pitcher of ice water, I shook my head and asked for bottled water.

“For some reason, the tap water doesn’t agree with me,” I said.

He looked at me for a long moment before answering.

“About what?” he said.

— Joan DelFattore

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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