“I tried to pick up my pace, leaning forward into the wind”

Dear Diary:

I was walking along Central Park near 59th Street. It was raining heavily, then it started to hail.

The sidewalk was empty. A cold rain seeped through my pants and hailstones tinkled all around me. I tried to pick up my pace, leaning forward into the wind.

Suddenly, a movement to my right made me turn my head. What I saw almost stopped me: a bird was walking parallel to me in the same direction a few meters away.

This was no ordinary city bird. It was a turkey, and it was walking beside me in Central Park West.

I looked at my companion, but he ignored me and kept walking. The poor bird was soaked. Streams of water flowed from its acacia. The hailstones bounced off his body with a muffled sound.

A crazy thought came to me, and I approached the bird with my umbrella extended. The turkey quickly changed course to pass behind the benches.

I straightened my umbrella and shook my head. Stupid bird, I thought. I only wanted to share my meager shelter. I burst out laughing at the image.

The sound startled the bird and prompted it to wander further away. We kept walking side by side, the benches between us, until I had to cross at Columbus Circle.

—Julia Heifets

Dear Diary:

It was 1969 and I wanted nothing more for my 16th birthday than to see “The Great White Hope” on Broadway. The series had just won several Tony Awards, including Best Actor for James Earl Jones and Best Actress for Jane Alexander.

I lived in South Fallsburg, Catskills, and I never imagined that my boyfriend at the time would surprise me with tickets or that my parents would let me go into town.

The show was mesmerizing and once it was over, we stayed by the stage door to have my program signed. After nearly an hour we were one of two young couples still waiting when James Earl Jones popped his head.

Seeing our perseverance, he invited us backstage. He was charming, and after a few minutes with the great actor, this star-studded teenager walked away with his signature on his Playbill.

More than 40 years later, I went to hear Jane Alexander give a talk. When it was over, I lined up with those waiting to have books signed.

When I got to the front, I presented my beloved program, told him my story and left with his autograph next to that of James Earl Jones.

—Sari Feldman

Dear Diary:

It was a fall morning, and I was on the B going up Central Park West to 86th Street.

A teenager with a shoebox on her lap caught my eye. As we traveled north, I noticed the box had holes in it and the boy kept nervously opening the lid to check what was inside.

Just after the train left 72nd Street, he opened the lid a little too far and a bird suddenly flew around the car.

The boy looked around, puzzled. The bird tried to land on the railings, but they were too slippery for a perch.

When we pulled up to 81st Street the doors opened and the bird flew out.

A man wearing a deerstalker cap spoke.

“Don’t worry about him,” he told the boy. “There is a migration of warblers he will encounter.”

And we left.

— Katy Rosati

Dear Diary:

I got dressed on a Sunday and took the train from Brooklyn to Manhattan for a date. It was obvious after the first drink that we weren’t a good match and parted ways amicably.

Greedy and not wanting to waste a good outfit and the train ticket, I walked across the street to Gotham Bar & Grill to try the new menu while reading my book.

I had just sat down at the empty bar and opened my book when the bartender told me that on Sundays they only serve a prix fixe menu. The “price” had been set way beyond my budget, but I was already seated so I settled for sauvignon blanc for dinner.

A man walked into the restaurant and sat down a seat away. He ordered dinner and a bottle of wine. After a few minutes he asked me if I liked red wine and then he poured me a glass.

I walked over and we talked about art, travel and books as I sipped his wine and watched eagerly as his meal arrived dish by dish.

When he had finished his entree, the bartender asked him what he wanted for dessert.

He looked at me.

“Two pear pies,” he said.

—Alison Hutchison

Dear Diary:

I was walking down the street when I saw a man holding a lamp post near Ninth Avenue and 43rd Street.

“You are a beautiful couple,” I said. “How long have you been a couple? »

He looked at me. I could tell he got it.

“I just got her back,” he said.

“I hope it lights up your life,” I said.

He smiled, laughed and then turned the corner.

—Barbara Litt

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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