After an exciting night and exhausting morning in the delivery room, Joan, who had just given birth to our daughter Zoë, decided she and the baby would nap. We were at NYU Hospital on First Avenue in Manhattan. Finding myself with some downtime, I decided to get a coffee and the New York Times. These were the pre-smartphone, pre-Starbucks days when you read the newspaper, cover to cover, and the coffee came with or without milk and sugar .
I left the hospital and headed down First Avenue. Daybreak on Wednesday morning, there didn’t seem to be much promise to finding an open delicatessen nearby. I asked an old lady on the street who appeared to be from the neighborhood if she knew of a place where I could get a coffee and newspaper.
“Sure, just a minute over there,” she said, pointing West.
I walked in the direction she pointed. Sure enough, there was the store, just as she described, but it was at least a twenty-minute walk from where we were standing in front of the hospital. It was then that I realized that I had been talking to a much older person.
You see, as one gets older, time compresses. The old lady’s “just a minute” twenty-minute walk WAS probably just a moment to her. They say that unique events in your life mark the time. Periods with many unique moments take on an expanded time-frame. The time, as well as what transpires, seems to take more time.
I had just been through one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments, the birth of my second child, before taking this walk. I would be able to recall with exquisite detail, this event thirty-six years later. For me, getting that coffee and paper was part of that event, too. For her, it was a walk that she had taken a thousand times before. Her ‘moment’ was my “twenty minutes.”