New York

‘She Wanted to Celebrate by Eating at Her Favorite Hot Pot Restaurant’

Dear Diary:

My girlfriend’s birthday was approaching, and she wanted to celebrate by eating at her favorite hot pot restaurant in Flushing.

Considering how to get there, we were disheartened at the number of weekend subway construction projects and the fares being charged by ride-share apps.

“Why don’t we just walk?” she said.

So we laced-up our most comfortable sneakers, packed a bag and set out from our Clinton Hill apartment at about noon for the 10-mile trip to Flushing.

Luckily, it was pleasantly warm for the middle of March. We started up Myrtle Avenue, passed through Bed-Stuy and then entered Bushwick, where we encountered an array of murals.

Strolling through Ridgewood, we passed a pierogi joint and a Carvel shop before cutting through All Faiths Cemetery into Middle Village, where we stopped for Italian pastries and did some people-watching in Juniper Valley Park.

We marched on to Elmhurst, where we were greeted by a “God Save Queens” mural and a seemingly endless number of fliers posted on light poles.

We trekked through the busy plazas beneath the 7 train tracks in Corona and stopped to catch some pickup soccer action at Park of the Americas. Soon, Citi Field was behind us and we were entering downtown Flushing.

Our appetites were voracious and our feet ached as we got to the restaurant. We dipped beef and veggies into the roiling soup bases.

I was too hungry to notice that I was eating from the “super spicy” base. I must have shown visible signs of discomfort because the waitress appeared with a large container of plum juice.

My girlfriend said it was a delightful way to spend her birthday. I had to agree.

— Tim Foy

Dear Diary:

I was walking near my home on the Lower East Side when I passed a delivery person pushing a large cart stacked with packages.

There was a wireless speaker hanging from the cart, and it was blasting Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Just before the chorus came around, I locked eyes with the delivery person.

“Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear,” we both belted out.

A smile and a heartbeat later we were no longer strangers but friends passing on the sidewalk.

— Chana Zomberg

Dear Diary:

The first apartment my fiancée and I shared was a 428-square-foot studio on the fourth floor of a building at 34th and Park. In the heady abandon of youth, we invited 20 friends to a Diwali party — and they all accepted.

When the night arrived, music, the aroma of fresh food, the tinkling of glasses and the sound of cheerful laughter started to fill the little space. The first three guests sat side by side on our folded-up futon. The fourth claimed the desk chair.

At 15 guests, we had the brilliant idea of moving the desk into the tub. That created space for three people.

By now, guests were sitting in clusters in the floor. Some were in groups of two or three, holding beers while sitting cross-legged and chatting. Others sat in the corner, backs against the wall and legs stretched out.

It was fun but also obvious that we had invited too many people. The bell rang again. I opened the door, but I couldn’t think of where to put five more jackets and seat five more people. Then one of our friends asked whether we could move the couch into the hallway.

Our apartment was the last one at the end of the hall, and our nearest neighbors were both at the party, so why not? And that’s how a great evening continued.

— Aparna Vasisht

Dear Diary:

I had gotten off the F at Borough Hall on my way to my job at New York City College of Technology. I passed two young men on the platform who appeared to be students.

“They warn you right up front,” one said to the other. “Look, it’s on the coin. See: ‘E pluribus unum.’ Let the buyer beware.”

— Peggy Tirschwell

Dear Diary:

Once, when I lived in a fifth-floor walk-up on West 71st Street, I decided to take a narrow shelving unit I had found on the sidewalk back to the curb.

A few days after putting it out, I was walking down Broadway with my mother when we passed a street vendor.

I quickly noticed that one of the many items he had for sale was my old shelving unit.

Out of curiosity, I asked him the price.

He took a long look at me.

“Normally, it’s $15,” he said. “But you have a nice face. How about 10?”

— Lisa Sloane

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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