The Countess Kathleen
We ate (shrimp risotto at Risotteria, divine, and pizza at Lombardi’s and Two Boots). We shopped (shoes, coats). We paid respects at Ground Zero and St. Paul's Chapel. We walked through Chinatown and Little Italy. We ate some more (Italian food on Mulberry Street, with dessert at Ferrara’s; hamburgers at my fave burger place Burger Heaven on 49th Street; chicken pot pie at my fave East Village place Telephone; cream puffs and éclairs and strawberry tarts from Veniero’s, my fave East Village pastry place).
The boys went and did teenage-boy-on-the-loose in Manhattan stuff, mostly involving clubs they could get into legally and shopping for vintage. Danny (big Doors fan) saw, for the first time in his life, snow fall out of the sky (he was thrilled). On Friday, a gorgeous cold windy blue-sky day with sun and snow showers, KQ and I went to the Cloisters, only my third time ever, and Kathleen’s first. I had the best time, and now they’re all safe home and I miss them.
New Yorkers often need out-of-town guests to make them get up and DO stuff like that. Left to our, okay, MY own devices, easy to say ohhhhhh it’s so faaaaaar to the Cloisters. And it is. A long subway ride and then a one-stop bus hop or a twenty-minute walk through a park.
But when you get there, and you see the towers rising up on top of the hill as if they were born there, and then when you walk around this incredible assemblage of medieval cloisters and halls with amazing stuff inside, the sense of peace and serenity and eternity…you wonder, briefly, why you only make it up there every twenty years or so.
The first time I went to the Cloisters was New Year’s Eve Day 1967. My then-boyfriend Ron and I drove up there in his cool black Volvo, and it was snowing, and when I stood on the battlements I couldn’t see anything but the snow, couldn’t hear anything but the quiet medieval music they were playing. No city sights, no city sounds. Absolutely extraordinary.
The second time was around 1980 or so, I think, and a friend and I took the bus up. Two hours. Never again. A nice visit, but not as memorable as the first.
And now this time. Kathleen says she’s bringing her husband up there next time they come to NYC, and she wouldn’t even buy postcards to show him what it looks like. Wants to surprise him. I think that’s quite the right thing to do.