It was last Wednesday, when the words came out of my brother Dave's mouth: "Let's go back there." I nodded slowly, then suddenly remembered I was on the phone, "Yes, " I replied. No further explanation was needed.
I spoke with my mom a few days before and could hear her voice crack a few times. She was having a rough go of it, phone support was one thing, a personal appearance would go a bit farther. Dave and I dug out our winter jackets and flew back to New York City, our first time back since dad passed.
We were in time for the last big cold snap of the winter, as the east coast was pounded with snow. There was 10 inches of it, that came down in Manhattan. It was the New York area's first "snow day" off from school in 5 years. 900 flights were canceled from the the combined three airports and I was darting from place to place.
Staying in Soho with a buddy, I would get up, throw coffee down my throat and grab the train to Queens, daily. Mom lives in Elmhurst and I stay in Manhattan (my geographic preference).
It was great to see mom and I could tell our presence made a difference, particularly mine, since my brother forgot to mention I'd be popping in. She lit up, when she saw me. Even with my little brother around, she's mostly alone these days. Kev (the youngest and still living home) has work and school. My brother and I are out here in California (although Dave is still currently back east). There is a sister less than a mile away but she has work and her kids. These quick fixes aren't the answer, I tell my brother. We both live in California and have to get on a plane at some point (after the snow melts). In fact we were having this very involved discussion on the JFK Airtrain and it wasn't until Dave got to Queens, when he realized his backpack was gone. Some fairly big material items were gone; a laptop, iPhone assecories, and his passport. Neither one of us had enough sleep to notice a bag left behind.
It was New York winter, like I remember. I stared out at the snow, like some dog on the passenger seat. It was coming down steady at one point and I wondered, when I would see the last flake. It didn't keep me indoors. There was little time to catch up with friends but I saw a few, and passed by some old haunts. I made a point of passing Fedora's restaurant, in the west village. I was wondering if it was still open. A friend, who can't get around anymore, wondered the same thing. We talked about, how the place would probably close if restaurant's namesake had passed. We couldn't see the son (a dentist) keeping it open for the small eclectic older crowd (and me) to enjoy. I was happy to see the dinner hours still posted. It's really not a great place to have a meal (you're safe if you order the day's specials), it was really all about the atmosphere. And as Fedora would say, when a newbie, walked in with a credit card, "We don't take credit cards but you can afford us." It used to be a speakeasy, back in the day. The only working phone in the restaurant / bar is a pay phone inside a big old phone booth. I remember someone telling a story about a patron having a heart attack in the restaurant. In panic. someone yelled out, "call 911", another voice called out; "Do you have a quarter?"
The snow was on the melting path, when I was heading to the airport Thursday. I was tired, dragging a bit, happy to able to sneak into to town, hug my mom, say hello to a few folks and watch the snow, blanket the city in white. I have fond memories but it's always great to come back to San Francisco.