“I decided that the smell should come through my open window”

Dear Diary:

I woke up in my apartment on the 11th floor of the Upper West Side and immediately smelled of freshly brewed coffee.

I was puzzled because I live alone. I decided the smell must be coming from my open window.

Indeed, when I raised the blinds, I saw two construction workers having breakfast on scaffolding.

“Coffee?” one of them said. “Bring your cup. “

– Sergii Peshyn

Dear Diary:

Eight winters ago, I crossed the country overnight to visit my sister during her freshman year of college. When I arrived, I was wearing a Southern California east coast winter clothing idea: a black long-sleeved sweater and olive corduroy pants.

The next morning, the rays of the sun hitting the windows of my sister’s dormitory woke us up, two tired sardines. She dressed me in layers of puffy outerwear as if preparing a toddler for ski school.

My wedding was approaching and I hadn’t started looking for a dress yet. My sister found an ad for vintage clothes on a bulletin board, and after a short shaky hike with snowflakes on our shoulders and stuck to our eyelashes, we turned onto West 17th Street.

The address on the second floor was dark, but there was a pink chiffon evening dress hanging from the balcony.

I said we should run away. My sister, with a few months in New York under her belt, ushered me into the drafty, unlit lobby of the building and up the stairs.

The light shone under a door like a mirage. But the store was real, and the first dress I tried on was perfect. We pulled out yards of lace and yellowing fabric in a large garbage bag.

– Sarah de Crescenzo


Dear Diary:

It was a typical Wednesday. I took the Raritan line into town from central Jersey for a mid-morning audition. Afterwards, I was heading to TKTS hoping to get a ticket for a morning when my cell phone rang.

A minute later, I stood in deep contemplation on the sidewalk, pondering a new dilemma that demanded immediate resolution: fabric store? a hardware store ?

I spotted a laundry. I walked in, waited my turn, and walked over to the counter when it came.

“Can you measure my head? I said to the man over there.

Without saying a word, he reached under the counter, pulled out a tape measure and wrapped it around my head.

“Twenty-two inches,” he said. “Are you looking for a new hat?” “

– Sort of, I say. “I’m going to graduate next month and the college needed to know what size mortar board I needed. “

– Janice Craft


Dear Diary:

My father asked me if I wanted to go to my neighborhood for lunch. He didn’t leave his apartment much, so I was really excited that he was going down to West 72nd Street to get me out.

After he arrived, we walked to Broadway.

“Where should we go?” I asked him.

He drove me to Fairway, where he bought bread and cold cuts.

“I thought we were going to eat out,” I said.

“We are,” he said. I followed him as he crossed the street and collapsed onto a bench in the middle of Broadway and 75th Street. “We are dining al fresco! “

He made us sandwiches and we ate them over there in the middle of the street. I was horrified: was this our exit?

These days, however, every time I walk past the Beacon Theater and cross Broadway, I think to myself, “How I wish I could dine al fresco with him now.”

– Pam McCool


Dear Diary:

My wife and I lived on East 39th Street in Manhattan in the late 1970s. One evening we decided to cross the street and walk down the block to a neighborhood bar, Suspenders, for dinner.

After we were seated, we went through the menu and ordered a bowl of French onion soup to share and two burgers, both medium rare.

When the waitress, a tough guy who intimidated us when she took our order, took out the soup, she glared at us and dropped it on the table.

But she had only brought one spoon. Because we were sharing, we called her back and asked her for another.

She gave us a bored look, but pulled out a second spoon nonetheless.

A few minutes later our burgers arrived. My wife tried hers and, finding it well done rather than medium rare, called the waitress back and asked for another well done burger for her.

The waitress stood there for a moment, silent but clearly brimming with hostility.

“I knew you were having problems,” she said finally, “when you ordered the two spoons! “

– Harvey R. Sheiber

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