‘Suddenly, It Appeared as Though the Bus Was Going to Be Able to Move’

M15 Bus

Dear Diary:

I was on my way home on a downtown M15 at around 9 p.m. on a Tuesday when the bus stopped abruptly near the entrance to the Midtown Tunnel. Road work.

They didn’t tell me about this, the driver said. Oh, lord.

I don’t know how you do this, I said.

She smiled.

She explained while we waited that she couldn’t let me off because we had just pulled away from a stop and it would be too dangerous.

Suddenly, it appeared as though the bus was going to be able to move again.

Hallelujah! the driver said.

Harry Louis, I said.

What did you say, she asked?

I repeated myself.

She laughed.

You can’t come to my church on Sunday and say that, she said.

I would love to go to your church, I said. And when you’re in church on Sunday, I added, you’re going to remember the girl who said “Harry Louis” instead of “Hallelujah” and smile and maybe even say “Harry Louis” yourself.

After I got off at my stop, she drove past me and beeped the horn, and we waved at each other.

It felt good to make her laugh.

— Nancy Kahn-Rosenthal

Looks Familiar

Dear Diary:

It was Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in April 1971, and a large crowd was on hand to see the Bronx Bombers start a new season.

My aunt had gotten us seats near the section where the players’ families sat, and our view of the field was superb.

As fans began to trickle out of the stadium in the later innings, I noticed that some of them were approaching a man who was sitting a few rows in front of us, and he was kindly accommodating everyone who asked him for his autograph.

I couldn’t tell who the man was from a distance. So, with my curiosity getting the better of me, I ambled down to where he was sitting and held out my pencil and scorecard.

After he finished signing, I looked down and was delighted to see that I had just gotten George Plimpton’s autograph.

— Paul Hensler

Caregiver’s Delight

Dear Diary:

First, a regular slice of pizza and iced tea
then a walk toward Central Park
Free drawing at the Frick —
Fragonard, Goya, van Dyck.

Afterward, still broke, abandoned, alone,
walking along Madison Avenue toward 86th
Street, window shopping at every boutique.

At my favorite bistro,
sacrificing to enjoy two glasses of wine,
usually Malbec
and later a Ruby Port.

Journaling at the bistro table, drawing a
better blueprint for myself while eating
steamed vegetables and duck confit, or
sometimes flatbread pizza with figs
and cheese. For dessert, bread pudding.

Drawing endless nude models at the League
filling up smooth newsprint pads
and fancy sketchbooks, then

back home in the Bronx showing
portraits and life drawings to my dying
father, his face so pleased, even in his
delirium and fever, blushing at the nudes

Singing for my father by his bedside, holding
his hand, trying to remember the immaterial
essence of the anatomy beyond his ailing
bones, trying to keep my emotions steady
and still —

as graceful and gracious as a merciful art model,
posing nude on a platform in a classroom

for me, a caregiver and a daughter
drawing strength, trying not to fall apart.

Tiffany Osedra Miller

Raleigh 3-Speed

Dear Diary:

It was about 20 years ago, and I was leaving a work meeting with the librarian at the Explorers Club on Manhattan’s East Side.

As I unlocked my bike, a member of the club arrived. He stopped and commented on the age and make of the bike, an ancient Raleigh.

I explained that some friends had gotten it for me at a garage sale in Massachusetts and that it had probably been made in the 1960s.

The man laughed and said he had worked at a Raleigh factory at the time.

As we nodded our heads while considering the possibility that he might have made this very bike, he asked how it was holding up.

I reported happily that two of the three gears still worked.

He pulled a tool out of his pocket and applied it to the wheel.

“Now you’ve got three gears again,” he said, tipping his hat as he walked into the club.

— Maria Reidelbach

Quick Comeback

Dear Diary:

I came out of a meeting on the Upper West Side on a wintry evening and hurried down the block to catch my bus home. I was wearing a knitted hat with bits of silver tinsel in it at the time.

A group of men who were probably in their late 20s came out of a bar.

“Nice hat,” one of them yelled sarcastically but good-naturedly.

Without a moment’s thought, I reverted back to my teenage self.

“Nice face,” I yelled back.

As I reached the bus stop, I could hear him and his friends laughing in the distance

— Irene Biggs

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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