Thursday, May 11, 2017

Abingdon Square

I am overwhelmed by the hundreds and hundreds of people who have sent congratulations and best wishes on my new marriage (three weeks today!) via my website, FB, Twitter, and email. Michael and I have not stopped smiling and at least once a day recount our perfect day, which started with his son and my kids and Laura Lippman, our officiant, drinking champagne and singing show tunes and signing official papers and just feeling love and joy. Then we were off to our ceremony in Abingdon Square, where twenty close family and friends awaited us. (You can read about this and more here: )

I want to take a moment to tell you about this little square in the West Village where we were married, and its significance to me and to us. As many of you know, I moved to NYC in 1982, when the city was a dangerous and scary place with one of the highest crime and murder rates in the country. I lived first in the West Village, then in Alphabet City, then in the East Village (now called NoHo), briefly to Brooklyn, and then back to the West Village--this in about 15 years. During that time, the West Village was unsafe, home to drug addicts and prostitutes, and Abingdon Square was the resting place for homeless people, many of them mentally ill. A friend of mine who lived on Jane St was mugged twice in the vestibule of the D'Agostino's grocery store. Another friend of mine was brutally raped on Bank St. In fact, when I moved to Leroy St in 1990, friends thought I was crazy. Too dangerous, they said. But I loved that scruffy part of the city, just as I'd loved Alphabet City back when taxi drivers refused to take me there (or walked me into my building if they did), and my way east Bleecker Street apartment when there was nothing there but a bodega and The Unique Boutique and The Great Jones Cafe. From Leroy St I moved to W 11th, but Abingdon Square remained a place to avoid. (I have written an essay about a murder that took place there then for my true crime column in The Normal School literary journal, which was cited as one of the 100 Notable Essays of 2016)

Years passed. I moved to Providence but kept various sublets in the city, always in my beloved West Village. For over a decade, I sublet an apartment on Bethune St, directly across from that D'Ag's where my old friend got mugged twice. On warm or sunny days, I sat in Abingdon Square, now cleaned up and safe and full of blossoms, reading or knitting or critiquing student manuscripts. So lovely, this little park that had once been so sad and full of despair.

About five years ago, the wonderful guy who is now my husband, texted me when he saw we were both going to be at the Miami Book Fair and asked could we meet for drinks. By this time we were in very loose, very casual touch, though we were great fans of each other's work. (Some cynical person has actually suggested he married me so I could teach him how to write fiction! I almost split a gut laughing over that! Although it has been one of our beautiful connections--what the poet Donald Hall calls the third thing--that we read and edit and inspire each other's work)

Anyway we had a couple drinks before dashing off to different dinners. And over those drinks we learned our apartments were literally around the corner from each other. Though it was several more years before we saw each other again, when we did Abingdon Square was our intersection point. Originally we were going to marry in City Hall, but since we planned every detail together and every detail reflected Us, we chose that park for the ceremony.  It helped that tulips, my favorite flower, were in abundance, excited bloom (as Laura said). Michael went to the bodega across from the park to get three dozen pink tulips for me to carry. There were tulips, and tears, and big grins, and poetry, everywhere I looked.

So many of you have been beside me through great joy and great sadness; through large and small life changes. I am so happy to have you all celebrate this most wonderful and exciting event in my life. Michael and I have chosen to fill our life with love and friends and joy. Each of us had 25 year marriages before this, and fabulous children, and even further back other loves and other lives. Of course those relationships and that history can never be erased. Who would ever want to do that? All that we've lived has made us the people we are today, the two who have fallen in love and started this next chapter together. We feel surrounded by deep
love--ours for each other and the love from all of you who have opened your arms and hearts to us. Honestly, we can't be more grateful.

I think the poems we chose to have read at our wedding tell you everything I could write here. They are all available online:
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Hope is That Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson
A section from The Velveteen Rabbit
I'm Crazy About Your Shrimp by Charles Simic
The Master Speed by Robert Frost
I hope you enjoy them,  as much as we do. And that when you read them, you will feel all the love we do.