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I spent the weekend before last in New York visiting my mum and two of her sisters. These sort of get-aways are important to any mother of young children and I did enjoy the break, but more than that I enjoyed being in New York. New Yorkers have the undeserved reputation of being cool and even nasty. I’m not sure how that happened – its never been my experience. I find them outgoing, warm and always open for a chat. Perhaps its because I’m related to one. I have three favourite aunts and one of them is a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker. My aunt bought her apartment on the upper west side before I was born. It is the only address that has remained a constant throughout my life, which is an important thing for a nester like me, who has moved house over thirty times in 41 years.

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When I open the door to 11B, there is a smell that greets me: the smell of sweet old wood, books, a certain mixture of unidentified familiar smells. No matter how long it has been since my last visit, they trigger a deep rooted limbic conneciton to my sense of home. My aunt’s apartment is not grandiose or fancy. It is a homey place filled with furniture and things from my grandparents’ home in Poughkeepsie, NY. These things make it a home just as much as the generous floor plan. The apartment was built during a time when people were afforded a decent amount of living space allowing for families to grow, holidays to be celebrated, guests received – allowing the life of a family to ebb and flow over the square feet allocated to them.

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Of course an integral part of my New York visit is seeing my aunt. The two are inseparable and I would find it hard to imagine one without the other. My aunt is the perfect host for me and the way I like to be a guest. She lets the doormen know I am coming, the door to her apartment is never locked, there is coffee for breakfast and she may or may not join you for a meal or and outing depending on what she has on that weekend. Perfect. I have time to catch up with her if I catch her during her morning coffee and cigarette, or share a lovely supper as we did Saturday evening. At the same time I am unencumbered with the role of the guest and free to pursue my own interests such as meandering around the streets in her neighborhood on an early Sunday morning…

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