For most of my life, when people mentioned New York City, they often added, A good place to visit, but Id never want to live there.
Somehow, the city in the past exuded an image of arrogance, that it was a place where visitors are likely to get mugged or run over by a taxi.
Several years ago, a young Raleigh friend went to the Big Apple to seek her fortune. Shes still there. Thats the way it is, especially for the young. Once theyve experienced the city and tasted its ambience, they become addicted to it. Even occasional visitors come away with the feeling that, in a way, New York is their city also.
My young friend lost her wallet three times during her first six months in New York.
Three times it was returned to me, she said. I wonder if that would have happened in Raleigh.
Poet Carl Sandburg honored Chicago with his famous poem by that name, identifying it as:
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nations Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders ...
Although songs about New York abound, no major poet has immortalized it in verse as Sandburg did Chicago. Its high time someone did.
Superstorm Sandy revealed New York for what it is: a city that once more has proved its mettle in dealing with one of the countrys most devastating assaults by nature.
Storm victims in New York and elsewhere have displayed uncommon courage and compassion, along with an innate toughness, as they have picked up the pieces and worked to put their lives together again. As we watch the process from afar, let us open our hearts and our wallets for all of Sandys victims.
I was having coffee at my usual hangout when a woman of my generation walked over and said, You have white hair. Like mine. That means wisdom. Thats what it says in the Bible.
I looked quizzically across the table at my friend, who said simply, Lonely. Just lonely.
Maybe, I thought to myself, but more than likely just Southern.
Southerners traditionally have been more open and warm and apt to speak to strangers than people from the North, who are apt to be more reserved.
The late Tar Heel author Reynolds Price, in The Tongues of Angels, touches on the matter.
In the novel, the hero, a counselor at a boys camp in the North Carolina mountains, has trouble adjusting to another counselors reticence. He finally attributes it to the fact that the fellow is a Yankee from Rhode Island.
Southerners, our hero observes, ask intimate questions in the way monkeys groom each other for lice, not to pry, but to make you feel cared for.
Hes right. But we Southern-born shouldnt be offended if some of our newcomers interpret our overtures as more meddling than caring.
Although April is months away, at our church and perhaps at yours, its pledge time, when we render unto God whatever is Gods and never mind Caesar.
Im reminded of the account of two men shipwrecked on a deserted island. One asks the other, Do you think well ever be rescued?
Oh, yes, the other man replies, Its stewardship time at my church. Theyre sure to come looking for us during the every-member canvass.
Food for thought
Italian proverb: May God save you from a bad neighbor and from a beginner on the fiddle.
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