Photo by Alessandro Gandolfi
More than anywhere else in the often-stratified New York, Central Park is a place where everybody – children, parents, lovers, friends – comes together.
It’s Memorial Day. A few friends and I had planned a half-hour stroll. Two hours later, we’re still walking.
Central Park, after all, feels endless. The 1.3 miles of the park are so full of winding paths, bramble-latticed woods, hidden castles and meadows and lakes and statues that it’s all but impossible for even the most seasoned native to have seen everything.
I should know. As we walk, we pass so many touchstones of my childhood. My favorite playground – the Egypt-themed Ancient Playground in the shadow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The larger-than-life statue of Alice in Wonderland I used to read under as a pre-teen.
The Bandshell where a crosstown boyfriend and I walked hand in hand, making plans we would not keep. The carousel my grandmother used to take me to – and where I took her, in return, for her 86th birthday.
My grandmother’s memorial bench – the only grave she ever wanted – near her old apartment on Central Park South.
Two Austrian tourists are sitting there. In halting German I try to explain: “Meine Großmutter.” Confused, they move aside. I show them the plaque: “Peggy Burton. Iconic New Yorker.”
At last they understand. They grin.
There are other children in the playground, by the statue, on the carousel. There are other couples holding hands by the bandstand. There are women the age my grandmother would have been: sitting on benches, reading, talking walks. There are other girls like us – determined to squeeze every sunlit moment out of summer. There always will be people here like us, or like the people we used to be.
We keep on walking.
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