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For the past 2 years since I moved to Manhattan, and Morningside Heights near Columbia University, I’ve audited a class each semester.  Barnard College, my alma mater, has an extraordinarily generous policy allowing alumnae to audit any lecture class for free.   It’s been one of the most wonderful benefits of my move.

Not only does it give me the intellectual stimulation of sitting in on a college class again, but it’s refreshing to be among the students, and very interesting to compare being an undergraduate today as against the late 1960’s when I attended Barnard.

This blog, about “widowing on”,  is a story about finding metaphorical signposts as I make my way through the woods alone.  I’ve taken several classes in the past five years.  Some have been at NYU’s School of Continuing Education and at the 92nd Street Y, with other “boomers”,  and then there are these with the undergraduates.  The latter affords me the chance to compare the different cultural changes that have taken place in over 40 years and is a constant source of wonderment to me.  Even more interesting is the surreal movement back in time that seems to happen ever time I sit down in one of those seats in a familiar lecture room.  As in the last paragraph of The Great Gatsby, I am “borne back ceaselessly into the past”.





Not everyone thinks running on the sidewalks of New York City is a good idea. Even if you’re young, the incessant pounding on one’s knees is supposed to lead to visits to the orthopedist for this or that.  Nevertheless,  I started running last year, a few times a week in the Morningside Heights area around Columbia.  Over this cool summer here, I was able to do it practically every day.

I only run about 1-1/2 to 2 miles, so it’s not particularly arduous.  Despite my proximity to Riverside Park, my preferred running course is on Riverside Drive, which has flat sidewalks, eliminating the possibility of tripping on a crack.   There’s also a lovely canopy of trees overhead, and the flower planters adjacent to the elegant pre-war Riverside Drive apartment buildings which line the route are always bursting with beautiful flowers.

There isn’t a tremendous amount of pedestrian traffic but there are dog walkers and people heading off to work or school.

I’ve just recently started running with an iPod, although plugging in to music means I can’t hear the birds as well.

I strongly recommend the routine.  When I come back, I feel, either physically or psychologically, the full effect of those mood-enhancing endorphins.   I suppose I’ll have to change my routine when the cold weather comes.  But for now, my morning run is a high point of the day.