Leo's Diner, as much a fixture of New York City, as Lower Manhattan was to its skyline! Erected in the latter part of the nineteenth century, it was built of a mixture of red brick and mortar. A sprawling two-storied structure of elegance and simplicity, contemporary design and Old World flavor.
Kind of like the city itself.
Half an hour later, found us in a booth next to a large plate glass window overlooking 42nd street, our hands wrapped around a couple of steaming hot mugs of cocoa.
Phillip had wanted a mound of marshmallows in his; I hadn't had marshmallows since I was nine, so despite the raised eyebrows of Nancy, our waitress, I decided to order the same.
"So," I began, blowing across the top of my cocoa. "What brings you to the big apple Phillip?"
Ever since he had set down, he'd been busy swinging his feet back and forth, his eyes jumping from place to place. First, speaking to our waitress, then, picking at the napkin dispenser in front of him. Always something to see, something to touch.... I can remember being like that, when the whole wide world around you seemed almost overwhelming, filled with sights, sounds and color. That's why I choose New York City, the home of over-indulgence!
At first he appeared a little nervous by my asking, staring intently into his cocoa, his lips pressed tightly together. "Stuff." He said.
"Stuff? What kind of stuff?" Both of us had ordered cheeseburgers and fries, Phillip had wanted two slices of cheese on his.
Shrugging his shoulders, he replied. "You know... stuff!"
"Ahhh, stuff! Now I get it." The way I said it made him smile and glance over at me. "Wanna know why I moved here," I asked. "It's because it's big-!"
"Big and scary." The boy remarked. Setting his mug back down, he began to spin it around on the table by its handle. "To me it's almost too big. How can anyone figure out where they're going all the time? I still get lost!"
"Don't we all!" I said. "And you're right, it is big. But if you remember how the streets are numbered- think of it this way, take the Empire State Building for instance, know which one that is?"
"Uh-huh." With this he turned and looked south, out the window beside us. There it was, like a giant exclamation point, stabbing skyward.
"The city is a lot like that building. On the ground floor sets lower Manhattan and the World Trade Centers-."
"You mean was," he said. "Was the Trade Centers...."
The memory, be it three years old, was still too painful to acknowledge. So skipping that part, I continued. "Working your way up from there, the numbers get bigger. First floor, 1st Street. Second floor, 2nd Street, and so on. Half way up would be Central Park-."
"But what about the other way, from side to side? That's where I get so confused."
"Well, that's easy too, if you start from your right, facing the Empire State Building, and go left. Side to side, they're called Avenues: 1st Avenue, 2nd Avenue, and so on.