One chilly March morning in 1963 my mother and I toured New York University. The alumna who took us around promised, through improbably white teeth, that NYU would place me squarely in the capital of the world and offer the best in libraries, museums, galleries, and theater. And, she said, A Case of Libel is opening at the Longacre a month after you get here and Van Heflin is in it. I love Van Heflin, don’t you?

Afterward my mother and I went back to our hotel for the gloves, scarves, and hats (red, white, and blue, thoughtfully crafted in Bavarian children’s style) she had made long before my acceptance letter arrived. I’d pretended not to watch her hands weaving row into row of brightly colored wool. Not to hear her needles clicking against each other. But I couldn’t stop myself from muttering, You’re just wasting your time. If I get in to that school, when we go to New York it’ll be too warm for those things. And anyway, this is the tropics. Where did you even get that wool?

Now here we were.

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