I feel as if I wrote this in another world. In many ways it was!
Happy New Year. It’s a beautiful day. I hope that bodes well for the coming year. Were my mom on this earth she would tell me to get out and take a walk. But I was in Central Park until one Am last night, so she might have excused me on those grounds.
We walked passed Tavern on The Green. Last year there had been ice sculptures and everybody was allowed into the grounds. This year it was balmy and Benny E King was singing outside in the courtyard of the restaurant. Remember him from early childhood “There is a rose in Spanish Harlem.” and other great ’50’s song.
At the band-shell there was a DJ who basically played techno music when he wasn’t playing Frank’s version of “New York, New York.” There was hot chocolate, tea, coffee, a mini-marathon, and the night reminded me of everything that’s good about New York. The crowds were further downtown. We had our own fireworks in the park.
I’m the dodo who asked Lucia and Little Luce what time the fireworks would be. Glad I could be of some amusement value.
I had a bottle of Moet left over from the election. It was the bottle of champagne we were going to celebrate with. (Not the double L’s; it was a school night and Lucia usually stays home when Little Luce has to go to school the next day.)
When I was growing up my parents would go out every New Years to a fancy dress party or costume party. My parents went out every Saturday and I assumed that I would when I grew up.
Well I got married without ever having been on a real date and we had known each other for four years so I don’t know why I thought I would live a sophisticated life.
Okay, we had gone out on about five real dates, but even back in the late ’60’s early ’70’s we traveled in packs. Our idea of a big evening was sitting around looking at each other; our idea of a really big evening was sneaking into the Fillmore East before the main act. (I know that we girls passed for groupies; but I’m not sure what the boys passed for, probably roadies–I mean rock stars, of course.) Or going with a minimum of 20 people to Hong Fat in Chinatown at two AM and running into 40 more people we knew.
I’m thinking about this because the first time I remember meeting INYTBA (an affectionate acronym) was at the Band-shell though we lived on Long Island; and had met there many times. I think the Jefferson Airplane was playing.
The spring before, when I was still in high school, I had seen Country Joe & The Fish “One two three four what are we fighting for,” there. I thought about those lyrics a lot last night. All these years later and I’m wondering again, and the country is polarized once more. I thought about the Band-shell, Central Park, the Be-In’s, the many concerts I have seen there and all the other ways Central Park has been important to me.
I did end up living a somewhat sophisticated life for a number of years. When I lived across from the park in the East 60’s I would have a small New Years Eve party every year for six to ten of my best friends. Then I would have a
First Saturday After New Years Party or Lucia’s Annual Surprise Birthday Party for anywhere from 75 to 200 people. The parties would end somewhere about dawn. I don’t pine for them or the times but sometimes think that somebody else was living my life. I couldn’t have known all those people. Me? But I did.
My friend Patrick would have fancy dress dinners with five courses, and many forks. As my father had been a waiter summers during high school and college, I could set a perfect table by the age of eight.
But Patrick would get so crazed that Lucia or I would use the wrong fork, I would use a wrong fork on purpose just to see his reaction. Patrick and his lover would buy huge tins of Beluga caviar something I proudly hate, and I would feed Patrick my portion by slipping him my portion, by putting my spoon into his hand under the table, so I was never uncouth. It was fun watching Patrick being scared that we would embarrass him in front of his friends from Sutton Place.
I thought about Patrick last night and all the free operas and symphony’s we had attended in The Park.
My Central Park history goes back so long I don’t remember ever not knowing it. My dad would take fave sis and I to climb on rocks–just like the ones he had climbed on when he was growing up in East Harlem, and Central Park was his backyard. Only we wouldn’t go to the northern part of the park then because it wasn’t safe. It is now.
It felt great to be in a place that brings back pleasurable memories and to know that Little Luce was storing her memories in her memory bank to be handed down to still another generation.
It felt great to get away from the real world and its problems for a few hours.
Even the anti-war memories were filtered through a hazed over moon.