I am supposed to meet Mom for dinner at 5:15. and I know she will be early. Still, I am two minutes late. I'm a stickler for punctuality whereas for her, being on time is a rare fluke. It's blustery and she's waiting in the wind, hair doing all sorts of funny things.

I think Mom's suffering from empty nest syndrome, and she wants to spend some time on the town with her girls. Tonight it's just me, though, and I'm hoping she's not going to pull a heart to heart on me. I am not equipped for rational discussion of what and why and how I'm doing right now. I am never ready for this sort of thing, and even less than usual today.

But no. We chat idly; The car broke down - your father is very busy lately - did you know I'm looking to move into a different apartment, Mom - Oh and before I forget, you got some mail at our place. The food is mediocre and the talk unsensational, but it is a warm room and we are comfortable people. She covers the check and we get our shit together and it's What should we do now, then?

Mom's a walker, I get that from her. Show me where you usually go when you're out all night walking, she says. A fleeting moment of panic has me thinking that she's going to start in on me now, on this walk, as she's learning my city by foot. And maybe she's trying to slip into my mind. But she can't, that's ridiculous, she's just my Mom and happy to share this something with me, anything I am willing to give. Sometimes I understand her even less than she does me.

We take Broadway heading north, this is City Hall - Tribeca's over that way - Canal Street, there's that store I told you about, you know, Industrial Plastics - then SoHo and (giggle) no, Mom Chelsea's way up over there, northwest. Then it's Houston onto Lafayette, up through Astor Place and I never knew there was a K-mart here!. In Union Square, I show her the Metronome (the smoking wall and lit numbers changing).

On and on, finally it's Times Square and this is our stop:

Her Bus, my train, thoughts intact and unprobed, home.

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