Alone in public

Alone in public

On places where one can be alone in public in New York City:

What’s constant is that churches remain a special category of real estate, set-aside zones dedicated to the proposition that all of us, praying types or not, need quiet places to be alone in public, places to think, feel and see things we may not think, feel and see elsewhere.

Everyone has “a place.” At least one place they hold as secret. They don’t link to it, tell others about, write about, photograph it, give it four stars (even when it counts). Revealing would render the place no longer quiet; no longer sacred; it would be discovered and defrocked.

For me, purely for non-secular reasons, this place was the square of an Episcopal seminary — a dense, green cityblockful of a place. One could enter and quietly linger, unconnected to religiosity yet purely connected to trees and green, smack center of Chelsea, New York City. And no one would so much as glance in your direction.

Part of the seminary sanctuary was replaced with a condo in 2009. Such is an evolving city. But Manhattan is an island of churches, Holland Cotter writes. “You’re never far from the sight of one.” Alone in public is never far from sight.