"Hallelujah in the Windshield Wipers"
December 15, 2003
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Listened to the show on Saturday and it was not bad. There really was everything but the kitchen sink in those two hours. I got to laughing right away when "Silent Night" was played with a pneumatic drill. It makes sense to me. I often hear "The Hallelujah Chorus" in the windshield wipers' wiping and "Hail To The Chief" when the washing machine is running. I just don't talk about it. People might think Iím a bit off and I don't need that.
What I did need was my dad's recipe for New York Style Cheesecake, which I'd misplaced and had hoped to make over the holidays. I've been to New York only twice—once alone and once with Mr. Sundberg on one of his motivational speaking engagements. The time I went alone—the first time—I told Mr. Sundberg I needed some time away and just bought a ticket to New York one November afternoon. He said, "Fine with me," and looked troubled so I explained I was tired, and not bored, but in need of an experience. So I flew out on a December evening and didn't expect at all the rush of feeling when the plane descended and I saw all those lights. It was like a treasure chest flung open at the bottom of a dark sea, and jewels were everywhere. I pressed my forehead to the window and tears filled my eyes. The woman next to me offered me a Kleenex and asked me if I've taken Jesus as my personal Savior, but I ignored her and just looked down at the lights of New York City.
I used the credit card, and spent two nights at the Mark Hotel. The bedspreads were a brown velvet and there were tiny bottles of white wine in the cupboard next to the window. I spent those few days in the city walking and visiting museums, and I ate some amazing pancakes at a little place called "18th and 8th," and some entirely wonderful risotto at Chez Michellet on Bedford Street. At night I opened the window wide and sat looking out at the city until I couldn't keep my eyes open. I never did eat cheesecake in New York, and I'm not sure what makes "New York" cheesecake different from other cheesecake, but it doesn't matter. I had just found the recipe when Nikolai Lugansky began to play Rachmaninoff and it felt to me the same way it felt when that plane lifted up out of New York City and headed for the Midwest where Mr. Sundberg and the kids and the laundry were waiting with the porch light on.
This year we'll be having New York Style Cheesecake for dessert on Christmas Eve after a church service where we'll sing along with "Silent Night" played on a pipe organ. The pastor will preach his sermon about Jesus being born in Bethlehem during which—I must confess—my thoughts will drift. Sometimes just knowing a place is out there is enough.