Reverie at Bennys Place

Obscura, An Odd Piece of Heaven

Hello everyone! First and foremost, I wish to apologize for the amount of time that has gone by since my last post. I have had an idea of what I wanted to write about since I returned from New York City several weeks ago, but it has yet to come together properly. While I sort through that, I wanted to create this interim post.

As always, I wish to say thank you to everyone old and new for reading and also to everyone who has subscribed to this blog. Your presence is truly welcome and I am blessed that you have taken time out to read my words.

New York City

A Letter

Old World Trade Center New York CityWhen attempting to describe the anticipation I felt when planning my trip to New York just a month ago, it felt as if I were composing a letter to the city itself announcing my arrival. In my head, it took the form of something akin to what Albert Schweitzer may have composed to his friend Albert Einstein or myriad other souls in his unique, eloquent way.

Should there have been an actual letter written, it would have had a resemblance to something like this:

Dear New York City, Midtown to be more exact,
 
It is with immense pleasure and excitement that I announce my visit. It has been a long while dear friend. So much has happened since I have seen you last. When was that? Thinking now, I believe the last time we saw one another was in April 2001. Yes, that was indeed it! So much has happened to you. You had several pieces ripped out of you viciously and yet you carry on just as strong as ever. It is astounding to me that I stood upon the very heights that have been permanently removed from you. I’m sorry you had to go through any of that. I truly am.
 
When I arrive, we have much catching up to do. It will be a short visit, but we shall make the most of every minute. I know now that to see everything in proper fashion, I must be intimate and walk with you everywhere. Well, most everywhere. Being human I do tire but rest assured we will be close to one another and each moment shall be blessed.
 
Yours always,
Benny

My First Day

As indicated in my mind’s letter, I had already decided I would walk everywhere… or most everywhere. When I stepped out of my friend’s apartment the morning of my first day, I looked up in awe, to my left in joy, to my right in excitement and behind me incredulously and let my eyes determine a direction. I was off. With the brisk air enveloping me, the aroma of city cradling me and a feast for the eyes every couple feet enticing me, I started off on 2nd Avenue and then on to 5th. Let me say this, 5th Avenue is the physical embodiment of decadence. These stores are not stores, they are life forms. Saks, Tiffany’s and the like. They inhale and exhale, heaving with each breath the same if not more so as the people rushing past their grand exteriors.

Tiffany & CompanyI knew better than to go inside any of these stores – with Tiffany’s being the exception. I had to stop into this exquisite human creation to get a special gift for a special someone. Beyond that though, I allowed these magnificent beasts to respire in peace – well as much peace as you can attain when you live on one of the busiest streets of Manhattan.

With 5th Avenue behind me, I walked through the tranquility of Central Park, then to lunch, a cathedral for quiet reflection, Times Square and then home. What a day! Now, I realize I cut this a bit short, but I shall describe my experiences in more detail during my next post – “Human Connections” – a tentative title.

Friday Is a Special Day

As all my humble plans came together when planning this trip, I thought about what I would love to see most. New York is so vast and while I do not particularly like making plans, I did have to formulate some semblance of an idea of what I would enjoy most. That is when I recalled my desire to explore a small antiques store called Obscura.

Interlude:
Some of you may be aware of a little show that once aired on the Science channel called Oddities. Intrinsically captivating, the show was based on the quirky happenings within a little shop called Obscura in New York City. Obscura sells… well… oddities of every sort. It is a small antique store, but it is so much more than that. The television show featured Evan, Mike their little shop and all the unique souls that would come in and out – either selling something or seeking something unique to add to their respective unique and sometimes bizarre collections. The premise of the show was that someone would come in wanting something very specific and Mike and Evan would have to hunt it down. All the while, you were allowed into their little world for a brief period of time.

I called Obscura prior to leaving and to my delight Evan was the one who answered the phone. Admittedly, I was a little star struck when speaking with her. I mentioned I was coming to New York City and was planning on visiting the store and asked if she would be there. Evan confirmed that both she and Mike would be there the Friday of my stay. Friday’s plans were therefore set in stone. I would be going to the East Village.

Outer  Window of Obscura

Outer Window of Obscura

A Bit of Drizzle Mixed With a Bit of Excitement

My day on Friday began just as my Thursday had. I exited the building, looked up at the magnificent buildings, looked left, looked right and looked behind me; I then looked up again. I knew already that rain was in the forecast and the clouds above me were there as predicted – ominous and foretelling. Thankfully it had not yet started to rain. Still, I decided I would take a shared ride service to Obscura. The shop didn’t open until noon and because I arrived shortly after 11, I had some time to explore.

There was a bit of drizzle as I walked so I opened the umbrella I borrowed only to discover it had seen better days, so it was flopping everywhere as I made my way down the street. To my delight, a nail salon was only a couple doors down so I popped in for a desperately needed manicure. Once finished, I still had over half an hour, so I carried on down the street. The drizzle painted freshness on all the buildings and I was in awe of every little thing. The noon hour arrived very quickly and I made my way back to the shop.

Meeting Evan and Mike of Obscura

When I walked in, Evan was just setting up for the day. Introductions made, we talked and talked about so many things. I learned of her being one of the first females admitted to Oriel College in Oxford and how the experience shaped her life. They began matriculating women in 1985 (the year Evan attended). For accuracy’s sake: She did not in fact matriculate there, but attended through a program based at Wadham College, Oxford.

As Evan and I talked, I looked around attempting to gather it all in. Evan very graciously allowed me to take photos of the items in the shop and I would like to share a few of those with you now:

Oddities found at Obscura

Oddities found at Obscura

Oddities found at Obscura

Oddities found at Obscura

The shop is very small which makes it perfect in my eyes. It allows for an intimate shopping experience which is something I very much prefer. I will touch more on this in my next post. Despite the lack of immense real estate akin to something you would find on 5th, the store is packed with treasures of every sort – as you can see from the photos above.

As time passed, Mike came in with his dog and now the day was perfect. I had met Mike and Evan and spent time absorbing the odd but heavenly beauty of Obscura. I didn’t want to take up too much more of their time so I took my leave but not before finding a few treasures to take home. In one of the drawers were some etchings by Gustave Doré of the Raven. These were glorious! Here is the illustration I purchased:

Gustave Dore' Illustration

Please visit this site to see this and all illustrations from the series.

Until Next Time

As the door shut behind me, I looked at the outside window again and made my way down the street to have lunch and a plan to see the tenement museum which was only a short walk away. I never did make it to the museum but will ensure I do during my next visit. For this trip, I was blessed to have had a day where I could meet two of the kindest, most intelligent, intriguing people in New York.

Obscura Antiques and Oddities

Leaving Obscura

This is where I will stop and while not entirely what I was going to write about originally, it does offer a wonderful segue into my next post… “Human connections” (tentative title).

Thank you to Mike and Evan for a wonderful afternoon of conversation and fascination. This will always be a trip I will forever cherish.

Evan of Obscura Antiques

Evan of Obscura Antiques

Mike of Obscura Antiques

Mike of Obscura Antiques

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One thought on “Obscura, An Odd Piece of Heaven

  1. Michelle

    I felt like I was there with you after reading this…. I especially love learning more about Obscura. Thank you

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