From an essay by Mira Ptacin in Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.
Ptacin writes about relocating to Maine from New York City, and how her first week was spent at the home of a grieving family friend:
Here are some of the things I learned at Rosemary’s that first week after leaving New York: I learned that when a widow is crying and smoking a cigarette, you let her cry, and if you speak, it’s to ask if you can get her another Diet Coke. I learned that no one cares that much what you do for a living, but they will be grateful if you stay up with a six-year-old and watch Dennis the Menace because his grandfather is dead and he cannot sleep. Rather than get into a political debate about the war, you thank an Iraqi veteran for his service. You do not check your BlackBerry in the middle of a toast, and when someone hands you a crying baby, you hold it. I learned that ice cream cakes make grandpas feel really special, and when a neighbor invites you to swing by the food pantry during her volunteer shift so that she can take a look at that nasty poison oak on your shin, you go, and you wait patiently until she can get free to see you. I learned that you don’t judge someone’s worth based on what they can do for you and that you aren’t expected to ask, “How can I help?” Instead, you just jump right in.