New York Tales from Curious Borough Dwellers

013 : Carrie Teicher at the New York Public Library, Manhattan
Born 1979 in White Plains, New York. Carrie Teicher currently works as a medical student. Why New York? Because this space will forever be home. She digs the following Gotham bits: Catching someone’s eye in the window reflection across from you on the subway; chatting with people in the never ending line at Whole Foods; the knowledge that she is never far from water or good food; Riverside Park around 118th street at dusk with the sun setting — almost makes New Jersey look beautiful; when strangers hold the doors to the subway for you because they see you running to catch that train. She is, however, a bit miffed by puddles of gross sludge despite the lack of rain or any visible water source; assumptions that New Yorkers are obnoxious; the gentrification of the whole island of Manhattan; lack of places (like cafes, stores) that let you bring your pooch inside. For more info on Carrie Teicher you should send an email or visit carrielee2.wordpress.com.

image: Carrie Teicher

“Perhaps it was the lanky teenager with the bright red book-bag that made me think I saw Adam.”

This is when it started to rain. Tourists in khaki vests vanished, the chatter of student groups dissipated and suits sprinted back to dry office towers. James, the homeless man who lives in the small garden tucked in front of the northwest corner of the New York Public Library[1], calmly started to pack up his belongings for the safe shelter of the F-train platform.

I took a seat on one of those garden-green folding chairs that moments earlier was occupied by the bustling crowds that congregate daily on 42nd Street. Of course, it’s not so much the people who are here now, but the people who were here then: perhaps it was the lanky teenager with the bright red book-bag that made me think I saw Adam.

A decade earlier, when we were at that teenager age when we knew that we were nothing but wise and almost invincible, Adam and I came here to the library’s stone steps. Here was where he told me what he wanted to be when he grew up (happy, or an artist), where he wanted to travel (Ougadougou, or Seattle) and how the virus he contracted was going to kill him (slowly, by destroying each and every one of his T-cells). At the time it felt safe to tell him on these steps that I, too, wanted to be happy, and I, too, wanted to see Ougadougou[2].

The warm rain made my t-shirt cling to my body; I was back to the here-and-now world where there was no Adam, just me sitting on a NYC-park-service folding chair with chipped paint. I went over to sit on the old stone steps, and I cried, though crying would not bring him back to our spot on the library’s stone steps.

Then the rains had gone and the benign summer day was back. The tourists ran past the steps to go take their obligatory snapshots with the lions[3]. The students came back to sit with their laptops. The scene abruptly filled back up with all these people who are but transient visitors. And I sat on the cold, wet steps and cried. I only feel this alone here at home surrounded by all these people living their lives in a place that should still be ours. James emerged from around the corner, back up to his garden. As he passed, he said to me, ‘Welcome back’.

referenced works

  1. This main branch of the New York Public Library, at 42nd Street and Fifth Ave., was built at the beginning of the 20th century on what had previously been the site of the above-ground Croton Reservoir. If you're living in New York or passing through for a year and you happen to be working on a research project or a creative project that involves research, be sure to apply for a fellowship. You'll get your own private room in this historic Beaux-Arts branch. Also a good place to visit if you dig pneumatic tubes.
  2. Carrie has indeed visited Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. She happened across the border when she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali in 2001.
  3. Nicknamed "Patience" and "Fortitude" in the 1930s by three-term New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

location information


017That's when I knew I wanted to live in New York: in the midst of those fragile bralets and bodysuits.— Ling Ma

016The guns, we tell the police later, were black like ice.— Tara Deal

015...my own talisman against the folly of my youth.— Andrea Jarrell

014Y'all in a band'r somethin'?— Abraham

013Perhaps it was the lanky teenager with the bright red book-bag that made me think I saw Adam.— Carrie Teicher

012I remember flattening myself against the streaky windows of the PATH train like an insect.— Erin Fisher

011I glanced up to see another shape hit the sand.— Ken H. Judy

010Vibrating almost imperceptibly in the breeze like a woody tuning fork.— Rob Giampietro

009Then the jazz stopped and the radio said the war had started in the Middle East. — Roland Kelts

008Shirtless Boris Yeltsin’s skin reddens as he reads a book.— Michael Maiello

007Port Authority was there with open, non-judging arms.— Khoi Vinh

006His almost-loss was my almost- nonexistence.— Matthew Rand

005On the cold hard floor of the orphanage, I sang, longing for the day that they would come and rescue me.— Jen Egan

004He was a lawyer, after all.— Kristin Gardner

003The parking lot gate was open, and we ran in with the skateboard.— Lorraine Martindale

002We arrived on completely Russian streets, with Russian signs and a familiar rudeness.— Kseniya Melnik

001...the hourly clicking of Oxfords and high heels across the parking lot.— Tam Nomgum


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