‘Wednesdays Are the Days He Drives Into Manhattan From Brooklyn’

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Dear Diary:

Every Wednesday morning at the cafe on Mott Street, Bobby flirts with me. Wednesdays are the days he drives into Manhattan from Brooklyn.

He was a gangster, or something shady. He won’t tell me what exactly, except that he worked in construction engineering. I know more than he realizes about the job. My father has worked in the field for 25 years.

It used to bother and bewilder me that Bobby would flirt with me. I don’t come across as the type to flirt with, or so I would think, at least to someone like him.

But I’ve come to accept it, smile and drink my coffee. People, given time, grow on you. And my boss gets a thrill out of it.

— Olivia Funk


Dear Diary:

The night was warm and sluggish. We had just watched the Yankees lose. My boyfriend and I had left the Stadium, and we were switching trains at Rockefeller Center.

There was a teenager wearing a backpack on the platform. He had been in the train car on the way downtown, too, and we had noticed him wiping away tears with the back of his fist.

He seemed better now, and we didn’t want to intrude. Then he approached us.

“Do you know if the M is running?” he said.

Hard to say. It was a weekend night.

A train arrived, not ours and not the M. We went up to the operator to ask about the M. We gestured toward the boy, and the operator had a blink of recognition.

“Hey, Joey! Joey, get on!” he yelled to the teenager. The boy looked up, and shuffled onto the train. The operator turned back to us.

“I’m friends with his older sister,” he said. “I’ll get him home.”

The bell sounded, and we stood clear of the closing doors.

— Danielle Kim


Dear Diary:

It was my first trip to the city as an adult. All I wanted was to see a drag queen I had seen once in a magazine.

I waited all night at Club Cumming, one eye always on the door. As she got out of her car, I ran up to her, and she held both of my hands in hers. I got goose bumps feeling her long acrylic nails press into my palm.

She wore black velvet and lip-synced to Gene Wilders’ speech from “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” that had always scared me as a child. Then she was gone.

The night before I was due home, I went to a tiny bar in Brooklyn hoping to see her one last time. There was only one person sitting on a stool by the door. We told each other stories and laughed about our broken hearts and the pieces we both still carried with us.

At dawn, I had to catch my flight.

— Elizabeth Teets


Dear Diary:

Growing up in the Rockaways, my summers were pretty idyllic. The beach, which was never crowded, provided hours of ocean swimming, boogie boarding and long walks.

Many of the young people who love Rockaway Beach now think they brought surfing culture out here, but there was a rich and rollicking surf scene in the area when I was growing up in the 1960s and ’70s.

Most of the guys surfed — and through most of the year, too. In those days, there was little opportunity for girls to surf. It simply wasn’t done and, as a female, there was no way to learn.

I have long been mesmerized by the sport. I often stop when I am out for a “power walk” along the shore to admire the surfers’ elegance and prowess (especially in the off-season). It really is a treat.

With female surfers now ubiquitous, I had been thinking wistfully for some time about learning. But there were the usual excuses: I’m too old. I can’t risk injury. I’ll look stupid.

So when I finally took my first surfing lesson two summers ago, I was filled with trepidation, and pride. Facing down fear and doing what one has yearned to do feels pretty momentous.

But it was nothing compared to the feeling of actually surfing, of getting up on the board and being at one with the Atlantic in three (and a half) of my eight tries.

I’ll take it.

— Jane Garfield Frank


Dear Diary:

In the late 1960s, I worked at an employment agency in Lower Manhattan. My department was responsible for placing male high school graduates in entry level jobs.

One day, I was interviewing a candidate who had filled out the necessary employment application. I read his application as we talked: name, address, year of graduation and so on.

I looked at what he had written next to the box that read, “position desired.”

“Near a window,” it said.

— Sona Doran

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee



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