Gretchen Rubin

In which I am filled with happiness at the sight of a store, Tender Buttons, in my neighborhood.

The other day, I happened to walk down 62nd Street near Lexington Avenue and passed by a little store, Tender Buttons. It’s a shop that sells nothing but – you guessed it – buttons.

The funny thing is that I frequently walk very close to the store, because it’s on my way to my gym, but I hadn’t walked down this particular block for years, apparently.

I was instantly flooded with happy memories. When I was growing up in Kansas City, my mother told me about visiting Tender Buttons on a trip to New York.

My mother has an extraordinary appreciation for beautiful and fine objects, and a real sense of style, so she was enthralled by this best-of-buttons store.

A few years later, when I came to New York with my parents, my mother and I made a return trip to the store. I felt very cultured that I picked up the reference to Gertrude Stein.

Tender Buttons represented everything that I still love most about New York City – the atmosphere of limitless possibility, the sense that lovely and quirky places are around every corner, the hope that people can make a good living pursuing an idiosyncratic passion.

The store is still there, but I’d forgotten about it – and it has been right in my neighborhood, this whole time. When I found it, I didn’t buy any buttons; I didn’t even go inside. Nevertheless, it made me very happy to re-discover it.

It’s funny what we remember about other people. I’m sure my mother has no recollection of telling me about Tender Buttons, or shopping there with me, and yet the mere sight of the store sign flooded me with tender thoughts of her.

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