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New York City: A Southern Family Visits

After we all strolled up Fifth in New York's annual Easter Parade, we headed back to my loft, exhausted, for their last night in the city. Kim bought sandwiches and soft drinks at my neighborhood deli. We spread out on my floor and ended up in an impromptu urban tableau of that most pastoral of planned images: a family picnic. In another bit of avuncular predestination, I popped in a videotape of Auntie Mame. Famished, I quickly finished my sandwich, then lay on the couch to take in the film. A spring draft wafted through the loft, and I pulled an old quilt over me, the kind that's frayed with holes and family lore. "Sshshsh. . . just listen to the stitches," my grandmother had once advised when I, sad and searching for answers, curled up next to her and watched as she ran her crooked hand, crippled by a stroke, across the patches of fabric.

Price, now cold himself, climbed in beside me. Under the gaze of his parents and the gazeless Mapplethorpes, we snuggled for warmth as Rosalind Russell, in her role as Mame, cavorted, teared up a time or two, and found a way, thank God, to camp with grace.

"Live! Live! Live!" she admonished us all.

"You're Auntie Mame!" Price suddenly informed me—as well as himself. "That's awesome," he whispered.

Kim smiled, as did Kristy. "When he decides it's safe to curl up next to you, well, no sleeping pill can match it," she told me. "It's more than relaxing. It's . . ."

". . . comforting," said Kim. "Right?Y'all comfortable?"

It was my turn to smile now as we slowly fell asleep like that—their most innocent and I, the two of us quilted together, tethered by identical breaths—and dreamed different dreams.

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