The poet Joseph Brodsky wrote, "I am prepared to believe that it is more difficult for Russians to accept the severance of ties than for anyone else.... For us, an apartment is for life."
How true this has been for my family. My Russian-born mother lived in her New York City apartment for 30 years. She never gave a thought to moving. In this apartment I spent my childhood years.
After law school, I moved to my own apartment. I still live here 37 years later.
Last month a friend, new to the real estate business, wrote me: "I'm not banking on your being one of my future customers, but remember me to any mobile friends, here or abroad. P.S. Perhaps you should move."
I have no intention of moving! In a world of change, I prefer being stationary on East 73rd Street.
I admire Thoreau for his strong sense of place. It was hard to budge him from Concord and its environs.
It is hard to budge me from New York City. Thirty-seven years in the same apartment. Sixty-four years in the same city.
True, I travel abroad and to other parts of the United States, so I am not as provincial as I may sound, but in other places I am a mere transient; here, a permanent resident.
Here are some examples of my close ties to my city. In January, I attended the 50-year reunion of my elementary-school class. The school is across the street from where I lived as a child, and 25 blocks from where I now live. I have stayed in touch with classmates.
I arranged to have a Southern magnolia planted in Central Park as a tribute to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was his favorite tree. Over the years on my daily walks in the park, I have watched the tree grow.
Last week a member of a library I belong to told me, out of the blue, that she and my mother had been passengers on the Oslofjord in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II when it sailed through the mine-filled waters of the Baltic Sea from Norway to the US. She mailed me a copy of the passenger list. A small-town encounter in the big city.
Once I thought it important to have a place in the country for the summer and weekends. No longer. I don't need it. Central Park is three blocks from where I live.
Year in and year out, in winter and summer, through sunshine and moonshine, I enjoy my city and my apartment.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor