‘We Met in the Morning a Few Days Later and Talked for Five Hours’

Morning Coffee

Dear Diary:

I grew up in Manhattan. He grew up in Brooklyn. We met and fell in love at N.Y.U. We got married soon after graduation and were together for 52 years until he died of cancer.

Being a widow was hard. The house was quiet. Most afternoons, I went to the local library and read the books, newspapers and magazines there. I often stayed until closing time.

I decided to join a club. One Sunday, I searched the club’s events online and saw a picture of a male club member holding his dog. They both seemed to be smiling. It was an appealing image.

Below the picture was the man’s email address. I made a bold move and emailed the man and invited him to have an espresso with me. He soon wrote back and agreed to meet.

I was nervous at first. After all, this was a stranger. What had I done?

We met in the morning a few days later and talked for five hours as we sipped espresso and ate almond cookies at Monteleone’s Bakery in Brooklyn. He was a widower and lonely, too.

Eight years later, we continue to sip our morning coffee together, only now at the home we share, knowing how truly blessed we are to have found each other in this great city called New York.

— Joan Marans Dim

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Dear Diary:

To the kid who sat next to me on the subway that day: We squeezed in next to each other when I had to find a seat. I saw you watching my phone.

You saw me write a poem between Chambers and 14th Streets, and update my grocery list between 14th and 34th.

Once I knew I had a captive audience, I played a spelling game for the rest of my trip.

Thank you for nodding when I got the pangram.

— Bellajeet Sahota

Riding Downtown

Dear Diary:

I was headed downtown on the 2 train when a college-age girl sitting nearby began to sob.

I moved over to sit on her right ride as a woman sitting to her left began to comfort her.

The girl said she was overwhelmed with anxiety and on the way to her therapist. A man sitting across from her offered her an unopened cold soda, which she accepted.

There we were on the train, four of us together, one of us in crisis. The situation seemed so precarious that I skipped my stop to stay by the young woman’s side. Her distress was palpable.

I, the woman on the left and the man offered her encouraging words in low tones. It seemed to help. She began to breathe normally and calm down.

We reached Wall Street, the last stop in Manhattan. I didn’t have time to go to Brooklyn and get back to my destination in time.

Preparing to get off the train, I asked the young woman if she was going to be OK. As I did, the woman on her left said she needed to get off too. The man sitting across from us said he felt badly because he also needed to get off.

We all asked the young woman if she was going to be OK. She nodded, but sniffled.

The three of us stood, hesitating as the doors opened. Suddenly, a woman swooped in from somewhere down the car and sat down in the seat I was vacating.

“I got her,” the woman said, smiling.

— Isabel Walcott Draves

Gas Bill

Dear Diary:

In fall 1977, I was living in a second-floor studio apartment in a Brooklyn Heights brownstone when I got a call from the young woman who had just moved into the garden apartment below.

She said she was having trouble getting Brooklyn Union Gas to open a new account because the serviceman couldn’t find the building’s address, probably because the entrance was downstairs rather than up a flight of stairs like all the other buildings on our side of the street.

She had gotten my name from the mailbox and asked if I could give her my account number to help the company find her.

The request seemed reasonable enough, so I found my bill and gave her my account number.

A few weeks later, I asked her out. We were married the following spring and have shared our utility bill for 45 years now.

— John M. George Jr.

Egg-Shaped Chairs

Dear Diary:

The seventh-floor restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman has two tables next to the windows that featured egg-shaped chairs that allow for discreet conversation while offering a view of Central Park.

When I did not see the chairs on one recent visit, I asked whether they had been decommissioned.

A store employee said they had been used for outside dining during the pandemic, were being refurbished and would be back soon with a fresh new look.

“Kind of like many of our customers,” he added.

— C.W. Byrne

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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