The pretty young girl on the bench

A pretty young woman with a Southern accent was sitting next to me and Rigby on a park bench yesterday. When she finished her phone call, she said she thought Rigby was cute. We started to chat and I learned she’s 23 and just moved to New York from Knoxville, TN. An only child, she relocated, despite her parents’ objections, because “there’s no opportunity in Knoxville.” She’s loved New York ever since she first visited. She would have loved to go to college here, she explained, but her folks wouldn’t hear of it, so she stayed in Knoxville.

“Park Bench,” by Edward Potthast, American Impressionist, 1857-1927


When she recently decided to move, her parents refused to help her financially, so she asked close relatives if they’d pay the security deposit on her new apartment. They did.

This girl has spunk, I thought. “Where do you live?” I asked. “I’m moving to an apartment in Astoria tomorrow, with a roommate from New Zealand who I met through a mutual friend,” she said. Astoria is in Queens, one of the boroughs, and has been a Greek neighborhood for decades.

Young people who can’t afford to live in Manhattan or Brooklyn are flocking to Astoria, where rentals are a third of the price. My young friend and her roommate are paying $1,600 for a two-bedroom apartment. “You can rent a whole townhouse in Knoxville for that amount,” she laughed.

A French major in college, she is now working as a saleswoman for a French leather accessories retailer, so she has opportunities to speak French. “Maybe I’ll get a job working for them in Paris someday,” where she lived for a time. She’s probably going to apply to graduate school to study French and would like to teach some day at the college level, she told me.

“I admire you for everything you’re doing,” I said. “I understand why your parents didn’t want you to move so far away and to such a big city. But someone like you, with such drive and determination, will do well here.”

When it was time for her to return to work, she rose from the bench, smiled broadly and said: “Please visit me at the store where I work if you’re in the neighborhood.”

I was already thinking who I could fix her up with. What a catch. Pretty, determined, independent, charming, and, most definitely, smart. I hope her folks get over their displeasure with their only child leaving home. Watching her venture out into the world is hard enough. Seeing her venture out in New York must scare them to death. As a born and bred New Yorker, I wish I could reassure them that their daughter will be just fine here.  More than fine. Spectacular.


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3 Responses to “The pretty young girl on the bench”

  1. Sharon Nord says:

    Now Geri just “adopt” her and pick someone from “Date My Single Kid”. 🙂

  2. Preppy 101 says:

    Oh my goodness! I live 15 minutes from Knoxville! I know so many young people from this area who are living in NYC! I so wish I could reach out so she could connect with some of these kids! I hope you’ll visit her at her store! She’s going to love NYC life. I,too, understand how hard this is for her parents as she is an only child . . . but we have to give them roots . . . and wings. XOXO

  3. Kate Line Snider says:

    I was born in Knoxville! At the time, my father was teaching at U.T. and I remember living on campus. It’s a beautiful little city in a lovely setting. I’m sure this young lady will do well in New York, but I hope she goes home sometime so Knoxville can grow. Thanks for spotlighting a “southern belle”.


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