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.



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.


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…