Our language has many terms familiar to all of us for specific small parts of the body, such as knee, elbow, shin, nostril, thumb, palm, and more; however, there is no such term for the back of the hand. I’ll come back to that later.
I just spent two fun days in New York City with my friend, Sara, in celebration of my 75th birthday. We’ve done this many times before, though we skipped last year, because of Covid. We take the six am train from Boston to Penn Station, walk to a nearby hotel, this year the Hilton Times Square, deposit our luggage, before heading to Macy’s, sixth floor. Their massive assortment of underwear, loungewear, and nightgowns captivates us completely and we always need replacements for the ones we’ve worn out or grown tired of.
We wander through Bryant Park, choosing a new casual lunch, which we enjoy picnic-style. The day is sunny and mild, so we delight in it and in being outside.
Following our routine, we go to the half-price ticket booth at Times Square and look over the assortment of plays from which to choose for that evening. There are always many that we want to see and we’ve never had a problem selecting something mutually agreeable to us. But, this time, Sara tells me that I get to pick, because it’s a special birthday. Ok, I say, but if I pick something you don’t want to see, you’ll tell me, right? Ok, she says. My first pick is Diana, which opened last week. We discuss, remembering the year that Hamilton opened, before we’d heard of it. That first year, we could have gotten tickets, but decided not to and, of course, it’s been impossible to get tickets for it ever since. So, after standing in line, when we got to the counter, I asked if there were good seats available, and was told, yes, ninth row, center, orchestra, so we took those tickets.
We returned to our hotel, because we could get into our room now, and took the elevator to the 20th floor. Interestingly, the day before, I was offered and turned down a special deal of paying an extra $25 for a quieter, higher floor, but when we checked in, she asked if we’d mind a higher floor, no extra charge!
We wander around, checking out the restaurants, now most with outdoor seating, covered with open sides. We choose a busy Mexican restaurant, appealing, in part, because of the colorful frozen drinks we notice in front of several patrons. We are not disappointed in either the drinks or the food. Then, we head for the theater, where our vaccination records and licenses are checked, and sink into our excellent seats. Diana meets our high expectations, providing us with a mix of emotions as it presents us with multifaceted main characters, enlarging the people we’ve known only from the news. Charles, Diana, the Queen, and Carmilla, each is shown to be worthy of our sympathy, despite our opinions prior to the play. As the play ends, tears come, not because of an unexpected ending, but because of my increased awareness of the terrible loss to all of us with Diana’s death. (PS The 11/18/21 NY Times doesn’t agree with me.)
Shortly after midday of our second day, walking near Times Square, we were remarking on the diversity of peoples we see every year. This year, that includes some costumed folks, such as a giant panda and a Spider-Man character, but no painted women, yes, with only paint on their bodies, no clothing, who we saw two years ago. The sidewalks are busy, with most people masked, though not all. When we enter any restaurant, our vaccination cards are carefully checked against our licenses, before we are allowed entry. About every two blocks are three-by-six foot open-tented areas with signs inviting passers-by to be Covid tested, no insurance needed, no charge. It’s been feeling as if it’s pretty safe here.
As we walk, Sara is to my right and beyond her, I notice other walkers giving a wide berth to one person who’s not walking. I slow down and point, not quite able to take in what I’m seeing. The slender woman is bent at the waist, her arms hanging just over her feet, a puddle in front of her, though there has been no rain. Time has changed for me, has slowed, maybe even stopped. I notice blood dripping from her hand, not a lot, then I see that she’s injecting a needle into the back of her hand.
Time returns to normal and we all continue walking. Except for that woman. I remember all those police officers who we’d noticed earlier and wonder why they’re not here, helping this woman. I’m wondering why I’m not doing something to help. Later, I wonder why there’s no name for the back of her hand.
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