It was early in 2011 when I decided to make New York City my first Shirleyfest by renting an apartment in New York for a month. I had this idea that September would be a beautiful time in the city, it was my birthday month, and if it worked in New York, I would try to do that every September in a different location. I was worried that I might not like being alone, away from friends and family for a month, but I figured the worst case was I’d fly back home and call it a learning experience. I found the most reasonably priced places I could online and my daughter who is in school at NYU narrowed it down to the best one. I was in NYC a little later and went and saw it. It seemed to have potential because it was a good location on the upper east side, but it looked a bit like a lonely place. I decided to budget a little money to spruce it up for the month. My family, including nieces and nephews in colleges around the country, all agreed that my birthday weekend they would come out and celebrate with me, so I knew I had at least one thing in place. The picture above is my family and friends celebrating on my birthday evening in the West Village. I took the apartment and flew out Sept 1. I knew my daughter would see me, but as a college student that it would not be frequently, so I put many lines in the water letting people know I was there. I also joined all the museums to allow myself to go for a short time every day. I made a syllabus for myself of things I wanted to learn, do, see and off I went. Every day I would get up and make a plan of what I would explore that day. I had the right amount of people come see me, or go to lunch or dinner with me and the right amount of alone time. I took a photography course in Central Park and visited all the farmers markets. I never once felt like I needed to fly home–in fact I was sad when the month was over. I’m now repeating my plan in London this September.
September 21, 2011
Up early and walked to Gracie Mansion where I met Carolyn. So few people that live here have been to see it. It is an Old Federalist style house where every New York City mayor since La Guardia has lived with the exception of Bloomberg. Inside they have “;looking glasses”–not mirrors. Such an apt term when you really think about it. We slowly walked though history and it was lovely and sad. Afterwards, we headed all the way down to the Village to the James Beard House. Dorie Greenspan was talking about her new cookbook. Before the talk began we came upon a number of chefs in the kitchen and had a great conversation about what is new and exciting in the food world to them. Carolyn took off after and I met Laura in Washington Square Park where we headed to Witchcraft for lunch. Back at Laura’s dorm she presented me with a Dior purse and a Chanel necklace for my upcoming birthday –both from vintage shops. So sweet and such wonderful gifts. Later that day I met Sheila for the ballet at Lincoln Center. It was Balanchine’s Black and White with the famous Apollo being the centerpiece. I had met Sheila zip lining in Costa Rica last year. After the ballet we went to a place near Lincoln Center called Wine and Roses and drank Gruner Veltliner. Loads of fun doing something that was the opposite of the activity that had caused us to meet. Home at 1:00 am.