‘We Wanted to See the Owl, and We Also Wanted to Go for a Run’

Twilight and Dusk

Dear Diary:

We wanted to see the owl, and we also wanted to go for a run. So we drove from Brooklyn to Manhattan and ran through Central Park. The owl eluded us, but we got to see the city at twilight and then at dusk.

When we came back out onto Fifth Avenue, we saw an older woman with a dog chatting with a man who was standing beside what appeared to be his car. Their body language was sweet and kind.

As we got into our car, the man pulled an empty baby seat from the back of the car and crossed the street.

As I pulled away from the curb, my partner leaned forward and saw that we were across from the entrance to Mount Sinai’s maternity ward. We rolled down the windows and shouted our congratulations to the man as he walked up the steps excitedly.

I wonder if he heard us.

— David Mountain

Taste of the City

Dear Diary:

It was some years ago, and my girlfriend and I — we’re married now — were living in Murray Hill. We were both fairly new to New York at the time.

One Saturday morning, we heard music and loud noises coming from somewhere nearby, so we went out to investigate. It turned out that there was a large street fair going on. We wandered around for a while, enjoying the festivities.

Soon, it was lunchtime. We went to one of the booths and bought our first-ever gyros. We were stunned at how good they were. The combined taste of the meat and the sauce and the bread was simply sensational.

After a bit, we headed back to our apartment and hung out there for the rest of the afternoon. When it was time for dinner, I asked my girlfriend what she wanted to eat. She looked at me, and we both started to laugh.

Without another word, we were back at the festival having gyros again.

— Andy Schaefer


Dear Diary:

I was waiting for the elevator when I encountered my neighbor on her way to the trash room. Despite living two doors away from each other for four and a half years, we had only spoken once before.

“Can I bake you a cake?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” she said. “I have four little ones. Anyone who feeds my kids is a friend of mine!”

A few weeks later, I knocked on her door and presented her with a glazed poppy seed almond cake.

“It’s warm!” she said as she cradled the foil-wrapped loaf delicately with both hands.

The next day, I heard a knock on my door. It was my neighbor.

“Thank you so much for the cake,” she said. “It was delicious! I’m so sorry but I don’t know how to bake. I’m terrible at that stuff, but we just picked up dinner from Shake Shack.”

She handed me a burger.

We have shared many takeout meals and homemade desserts since then.

— Belal Al-Rawi

Saturday Matinee

Dear Diary:

It was the mid-1960s, and I was an acting student at the High School of Performing Arts. I had an after-school job at Bond clothing store, and sometimes before going to work I would stop at a luncheonette nearby.

Once, when I was at the counter having toast and coffee, a somewhat scruffy-looking older man came in, sat on the stool next to mine and ordered coffee.

Feeling sorry for him, I asked if I could pay for his coffee. He smiled and thanked me. For the next little while, we talked, or, more accurately, he asked questions and I talked, thrilled to be telling someone about my plans for a future on Broadway.

When it was time to leave, he smiled kindly and asked whether I had seen “Man of La Mancha.”

When I said that I hadn’t, he said there would be a ticket waiting for me at the box office for the matinee that Saturday and that I should come backstage after the show.

Excited, and a bit puzzled, I left the diner figuring that he must work at the theater.

True to his word, there was a ticket in my name when I arrived at the box office on Saturday. And not in the upper balcony as I had expected, but a house seat close enough to the stage for me to recognize that scruffy older man as Robert Rounseville, who was playing the role of the Padre.

I did indeed go backstage after the show, where this gracious actor introduced me to the other cast members and gave me what, all these years later, is still one of my sweetest memories.

— Susan Hopkins


Dear Diary:

I was chatting with some friends while sitting on a bench at Stuyvesant Town.

A woman on the next bench looked over at us.

“Please keep your voices down,” she said. “I’m trying to make a phone call.”

— Matthew Warschauer

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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