My New York is not a city; it is a town. While I walk the streets of my neighborhood, I feel sheltered from the hustle and bustle of city life, and one of the local establishments that makes my New York unique is Butterfield Market. Butterfield Market is a traditional and inviting green grocer that always seems to stock just the thing you are craving. It is a local spot that everybody in the neighborhood visits several times a day. Down the block and across the street from my house, the green weathered awning of Butterfield Market sparks many warm memories.
When I walk into Butterfield I am instantly strapped back into the light-up sneakers my five-year-old self sported. I am “it”. My brother and I play tag on the sidewalk during our short journey to Butterfield. The air is crisp and I close my eyes, urging my short legs to pick up speed. I chase my brother past the busy Starbucks, whose own green awning is always perfectly spotless. As we sprint towards Butterfield the rusty subway grate blows warm air onto my face, a nice city breeze. Just as I begin to gain on my brother, he reaches the entrance to Butterfield, and the game is over. Upset that I lost, I catch my breath and sulkily enter our neighborhood market just behind my laughing brother. The small store feels huge to me, but also welcoming. There is a relaxed buzz of activity above my head, and at eye level I watch the back of my Dad’s ripped blue jeans as he retrieves a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I know that I will not be alone for long. Jack, the silver-haired longtime manager, greets me warmly, scoops me up and hands me a piece of wax paper. The sound of the wax paper signals it’s cookie time. Jack lifts me higher in order to review the selection of cookies. The act of making a decision unnerves me. I cannot choose between the chocolate leaves and the chocolate chip cookies so Jack, sensing my dilemma, smiles and allows me to take one of each. Little things like Jack’s smile make my New York a small town.
Ten years later, I am taking the same walk I have made most days for fifteen years. I am not “it” this time, but I am with my brother and both of my sisters. Starbucks is as busy as ever with the introduction of their latest seasonal drink, and the portrait of the woman on their clean green awning gazes at me, making me feel uncomfortable and causing me to pick up my pace. My brother strolls in front of me with my sisters slightly behind. As I walk toward Butterfield, the rusty subway grate blows warm air into my face, a nice city breeze. Butterfield’s awning now sports purple along with its original green, and the store feels smaller than it did in my childhood, yet it still feels like home. My mom passes by, holding a cup of coffee on her way to the gym. The young girl behind the cash register greets us by name, as people politely move around the market at my eye level. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Jack’s wispy silver hair. He emerges from his back office armed with wax paper – it’s cookie time once again. I do not need a boost anymore to see the entire selection, but my younger sister struggles on her tippy toes to examine the first row of cookies. Jack lifts her high into the air, and watches eagerly to see which cookies we select. I choose chocolate chip, wanting to seem mature enough to settle for just one flavor. But the decision still unnerves me, and Jack can always tell. Still smiling, he hands me two chocolate leaves, as well.
My New York is Butterfield Market. The simple routine of walking to Butterfield has defined much of what New York means to me. In a city filled with big buildings and mega supermarkets, Butterfield has allowed me to experience what it is like to live in a small town. I gladly cruise past the woman’s face on the awning of the busy chain coffee shop to the awning stained with childhood memories that hangs over the family-owned market on the opposite corner. Everyone knows me at Butterfield and as long as I live in New York, I will always stop by for a friendly face and a chocolate leaf.
Zachary Spohler, Age 18, Grade 12, Trinity School, Silver Key