I Love NYC: Dining with Strangers

Kym Motley
2 min readFeb 24, 2021

How brunch with Jane convinced me to move to New York City

A year before I moved to New York City, I crammed my curiosities into a tiny suitcase and headed to Manhattan for a long weekend. Did I really want to live in New York City? My three-day reconnaissance mission was intended to answer this burning question. My mission included a visit to Henry’s, a former restaurant on the Upper West Side at 104th & Broadway. I sent them a tweet and they rolled out the red carpet for my in-real-life visit.

The elderly woman next to me asked, “Who are you?” I explained Twitter to Jane but she wasn’t interested in how my tweets garnered exceptional service.

Despite her disinterest, her inquiry sparked a conversation that lasted from breakfast through lunch. Armed with coffee, sharp wit, and The New York Times, Jane held court in her corner every day. I asked her questions about life in Manhattan. She answered them and also shared her personal stories of life as a housing rights activist, writer, and mother. Jane also peppered in commentary on the diners seated near us. Jane was a force to be reckoned with. She reminded me of my grandmother, Gladys — I knew I was talking with a trusted source.

I returned to Henry’s a year later, no longer a tourist. “I’d like to sit in Jane’s section,” I said to the waiter. Puzzled by the uncommon request, the waiter seated me next to Jane. Like clockwork, she was eating breakfast and thumbing through The New York Times. I reminded her of our previous visit and we enjoyed another afternoon of serendipitous storytelling. This time, Jane told me she was moving to Brooklyn to live with her daughter.

I never saw Jane again after our brief reunion but I’ve thought of her often over the past decade. I was supposed to meet Jane; a well-read, coffee-drinking angel who guided me in the direction of my dreams.

Kym Motley

Artist, writer, and foodie on a mission to inspire others to experience the joy in everyday life. http://www.dailymodernliving.com