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A Visit to New York
by Martin Green



It was Sanders’ first visit back to New York, if you didn’t count the quick trips after his father’s and then his mother’s deaths, in fifteen years. He was now a vice-president in the San Francisco branch of a paper goods company and he was there to attend a meeting. He’d called his sister Rose and now he stood uneasily in the crowded living room of her house in Queens. Rose had gone all out in assembling what was left of their family - Aunt Sarah and Uncle Jack, both now at least in their eighties, his cousins Mark, Henry and Beth, even some of his old friends, Ed Cohen from the old neighborhood, Stan Parker from his old high school, and of course Ruth Gold. Ruth, now married with two children he’d been told, but she’d come by herself.


While surrounded by his aunt and uncle and cousins Sanders was looking at Ruth. She was around 40 now but to Sanders she looked as lovely as ever. Her hair, down to her shoulders, was still a glossy brown. Her oval face was still serious and her gray eyes still had their depth. Sanders was recounting how he’d gone to San Francisco because he felt he was getting nowhere in New York and had gotten the job with the paper goods company and advanced to vice-president of marketing, Yes, he’d made a lot of friends out there. (This wasn’t entirely true; he had a couple). No, he hadn’t married; just hadn’t met the right one yet. (He didn’t go into the three or four affairs he’d had, one of which had ended disastrously and the others had just petered out.)


Finally, he managed to make his way to Ruth. “I’m glad you came,” he said. Ruth was still Rose’s best friend, even though Sanders had, among other things, left Ruth behind when he’d decided his future was in California and not in New York.


“I had to see what the big success looked like,” said Ruth.


“Not such a big success. A nice title but that’s all.  So you have two kids?” 


“Yes, a boy and a girl.”


“I suppose you have pictures.”


“Of course.”  She reached into her purse and brought them out.   


“The girl’s pretty, like her mother. The boy’s handsome.”


“Thank you. And what about you? Still unmarried?”


“Still.” They stood there quietly for a while, then he suddenly asked, he couldn’t help it, “Are you happy?”


She appeared to consider, the grave face that he remembered. “Reasonably so. Isn’t that all we can ask for?”


“I suppose so.”


“And what about you? Are you happy?”


Before he could answer his friends Ed and Stan came over and said, “Come on, your sister Rose wants to take some pictures.” He was swept away.


The rest of the afternoon passed quickly and then it was time to say his good-byes. When he came to Ruth Gold he almost took her in his arms but caught himself and said, “It was nice seeing you.”


“Yes. Be happy in San Francisco.”




Sanders latest girl friend picked him up at the airport in San Francisco. When he’d gotten into the car she asked, “How was New York?    How’d the meeting go?”




“Did you get to see a lot of old friends?”


“ Yes, I did.”


“That’s good.”


Sanders had a quick recollection of saying good-bye to Ruth Gold. He wondered if she was thinking what he was thinking at that moment.   


Too late.




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