Thursday, December 13, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from a rainy, sleety New York with sidewalks that are slick with ice.

Now, does that sound like a winter wonderland? Well, not to me either, but it is what we have tonight. With our reasonably-well-functioning public transport, we New Yorkers are generally able to just go with the flow as the unpleasant side of winter tries to interfere with our pursuit of happiness.

But, this is getting close to Christmas, and we all do have lists to check off, parties to attend, and even the usual round of errands staring at us.

For myself, this was to be a day off with lots of required appearances, nonetheless. But the weather chased most of the requisites away. I not so quietly cheered.

I did not need to attend the previously scheduled meeting downtown at 9 this morning, and so I did not set my alarm clock and let the darker-than-usual sun up allow me to sleep a bit late. But then it was up and down to the basement laundry room (now undergoing some of the signs of renovation that the new owners of this building are bestowing upon all floors of their new property.)

The early morning was rain, then sleet, then snow, then a slow reversal of the earlier special effects. I figured that if I could wrap up in weather-proof and warm layers, I should, post laundry, set out to do lots of Christmas shopping, and other errands. And so I did.

A great achievement for this small-shoe-sized person, on this foul weather day, was that I took my dripping down-coated, damp-parcel-carrying person into a neighborhood shoe shop, and asked the staff (I was the only customer on this bad weather afternoon) what waterproof, snowproof and warm boots do you have in size 5.5? Well. They showed me a fine little style, made in Canada (Pondside, take note) and a very simple design with just a little bit of edge. Hey, that is me, very simple with just a bit of edge.

I was very glad to take those little black boots home with me and to have a chance to warm up before the next required appearance of the day.

My shop was to have its holiday dinner party tonight, but thank goodness when I got home and called the shop, those there had already decided wisely, to postpone that festivity.

Great. Because I had another festive function to attend late this afternoon, a retirement farewell reception for a dear friend whom I first met back in the early 1970's when we were both archivists at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

There is no way that I would have missed attending this party, held in a rarefied lounge area of the Met. I definitely wanted to be there to honor my friend, but also to take another of my walks down memory lane. Sleet and snow and frozen sidewalks and a long wait for a crosstown bus, none of them were a deterrent.

Yes, it has been thirty years since I was an archivist at the Met, and in those thirty years I have been through many changes in my life. There were very few people whom I recognized at the party. Strangely, what interested me was that any regrets that I had wondered about ... whether I would be sorry to have given up the museum life, if re-entering that society this evening at a very high level would give me doubts about my decisions.... Well. None of that remotely true. The many people gathered about with glasses of wine, and tidbits to munch on, seemed sort of insular, a bit self-congratulatory. Virgo that I am, I could not help but check out various bits of body language, and wonder at the subtle messages that were being sent across the beautiful, large room. Messages that would mean little outside of that huge Museum building.

I was happy to see some other old pals, besides the honoree, and to chat a bit. Our old boss, a glamorous male, who featured in many society column photos, made a last minute appearance. It was fun to chat a bit with him. But all in all, I was glad to be able to take the elevator down to the first floor, and walk through the beautiful Museum lobby, out the front door and down the marble front stairs. I was so happy that all ice had been cleared from those marble steps! There was a very long wait for a bus to take me back westward across the park, but that time in the chilled evening air (with fur-edged hood up on my down coat at this point ... it was getting cold) gave me more time to contemplate some life decisions that I have made.

The career that I work so hard in now is very demanding, not very intellectually driven, but is very people focused. Tonight, as I look forward to another long day, mainly on my feet, tomorrow at the shop, I am glad that I have tried so many different ways to making my way in the world. Each career choice has had its reasons, and each aftermath has had its pluses and minuses. My current choice is still in the plus column, no matter how much I might whinge from time to time in this space.


  1. Hi Frances,
    Hope you have thawed out. We've got very cold and frosty weather at the moment but no snow or sleet thank goodness. I bet your new boots aren't as trendy as my chocolate wellies [ joke ]

  2. What a lovely trip down memory lane, Frances, thank you for taking us with you. Glad you found some gorgeous footwear to fit both foot and season. I know what a challenge that has been! Glad too, that you are still sitting on the plus side.

    Hugs to you. Watch your step.

  3. I am glad to hear things are still on the plus! Long may it last.

  4. Change brings new discoveries in life and without that we can not grow I think. To experience so much and do so many diffent things in your life can only surely add the person you become. Good to be happy with your life choices and to recognise status is not all!

  5. ooh what miserable weather, I so hate it when its that cold and wet! and NYC does get cold, I came back with a good souvenir dose of wind burn when visited in April that took weeks to settle! At least its not that awful ice storms other parts in the US seem to be suffering, that looks frightening! Stay safe and warm! xx

  6. What tiny feet trip down the wide pavements of Fifth Avenue! thank you Frances for the trip down your memory lane I enjoyed it very much.
    Hope the damp cold weather turns into that lovely white but bright wonderland that NY can provide.
    Love Blossom

  7. Oh I did enjoy this and the previous blogs Frances. So lovely to think you have no regrets about changing career. The boots sound wonderful - trendy and warm; just perfect. xx

  8. I have enjoyed reading your wintery blogs from NYC - I can almost feel the wind whistling up 5th Avenue.

    I think you are lucky to have your (now warm and dry) feet in both camps; the fast moving people centred world of retail and the aesthic/interlectual arts world.

    Best wishes and keep warm.

  9. What size is 5.5 in UK?? Could you get children's shoes if truly small (children getting bigger all the time - and shoes for them getting groovier! and no VAT - or aren't American shoes subject to that anyway?) Sorry, very dull and you of all people do not need a lesson in shopping!

  10. Lovely writing Frances, you always make me feel as if I'm there with you.

  11. I was going to say exactly the same as elizabethd. I love reading about your New York life and your writing is so vivid. I actually felt cold reading this.

  12. I love reading about your life Francis. It is so different from mine but you make it so easy to understand.

  13. I really enjoyed that francis thank you i do hope you'll be taking me to your next party xxoo

  14. Thanks to all of you. Much warmer and drier in New York today. But...such a long day at the shop.
    That is what retail is at this timeof the year. I keep thinking that we are helping lots of people (including many husbands!) make great gift decisions.


  15. Glorious as ever my friend, what can I say that has not already been said. You paint such a wonderful picture that we walk with you.

  16. I'm glad to hear that your dainty feet will be kept warm and dry in a pair of Canadian boots! We certainly have the cold-weather expertise!!

  17. 'Simple with just a bit of edge', I like that and no, you never whinge. May 2008 be always on the plus side.

  18. Frances, I don't think anyone could accuse you of wingeing;- your writing is always so interesting and descriptive. I am so glad you found some warm boots - cold
    feet are such misery. Wishing you a peaceful Christmas, I look forward to reading more of city life in 2008.

    g :)

  19. Greetings from Yorkshire, England. I enjoyed that post - it pulled back the curtain on the life of an ordinary New Yorker - and I use the word ordinary with admiration.

  20. Dear Frances,

    Those little black booties sound just the ticket for keeping those toes warm, I too am size 5.5

    I can identify with what you say about being driven in a creative way, but at the same time being able to have contact with people in one's career.

    I just adore your letters from America Frances, we are so lucky and fortunate to have you, and be able to at least share parts of life with you in NYC.

    Love Camilla.xx

  21. Hi Frances, hope you had a very good Christmas after all that. Your blog brought back memories of visiting the Met - alone - some years back, nd how everyone was incredibly friendly and hospitable. I also recognise the career choices dilemma. The important thing is to have no regrets. One can never know; the only real regrets are those actions you didn't take. I am glad you are happy with things the way they are. Best wishes for the New Year. Fenniexx

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