What I had been looking most forward to in New York City was going to Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe in Soho on Saturday, December 16th (2017). It was the day of the annual ‘A Christmas Carol’ marathon where for 4.5 hours or so, various authors and actors would read from Dickens’ book. Prior to it there was to be a Christmas carol concert by the New York City Master Chorale.
The event took place on my eighth day in the city and I was tired but exhilarated in many ways. Travel for me means nightly insomnia no matter how relaxed I tell myself to be. And travel is tiring in its way – the coming, the going, the ins and outs. The subway. The this, the that.
I Google mapped my way on the subway – and actually found that the bookstore was within easy walking distance of the second line I had to take. Hallelujah! Well, I did walk the wrong way initially but I eventually made it. I arrived about a half an hour before the carolling was to start.
The bookstore, part of Housing Works that was established in 1990 to help those with HIV and AIDS to have housing, was beautiful. Lots of wood, an upper level balcony, a cafe at the back, and tremendously helpful staff at the front (all volunteers). The selection of books was terrific and inspiring. My intellectual thirst, for lack of a less pretentious way of saying it, was firing on all cylinders. Yee haw!
There were seats set up for the event and I, after checking out the books on the balcony, saved a seat for myself. I got some healthy goodness from the cafe and settled in.
The crowds were starting to gather.
At 11 am, the New York City Chorale began to sing. It was glorious. A free concert that would cost a lot I imagine under normal circumstances. It was a small segment of the Chorale, I believe and they were giving their time to sing – and have folks sing along as they liked.
For an hour, they sang. They took requests and had people from the crowd come up and sing with them.
Holy cow holy cow holy cow holy cow.
There are places like this that are non-profit and that care for others and have volunteers and have marathons and professional choirs sing carols and I was verklempt.
I stayed for part of the Dickens Marathon after and that was also amazing. The actors/artists/writers read from the two balconies and the audience was entranced.
I don’t know that I am a good enough writer to do this event the justice that it deserves. This was a highlight of my 10 days in the city.
It is something to travel alone in a city and have to figure out what you have to figure out on your own – not that NYC is the jungle (well, an urban one to be sure) but still, it is a thing. It is a thing for me anyway. And there I was sitting in Housing Works and just feeling tremendous about it all.
Then I broke my leg.
No, ha, I joke. No such drama. Well, the only drama was that I then went in search of the Chelsea Market which was a crowded misery of the opposite of Housing Works I thought.
I stumbled back up to the Air BnB and waited for the evening when I would be going to the Apollo Theater to listen to some Christmas music. I don’t think I will write about the Apollo because that just feels too much like ‘white tourist has incredible Harlem experience and writes about it in her blog.’