Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Miri Hoffman

Miri Hoffman is not her real name. It is not her real name because by day she teaches English, History, and occasionally Sex Ed to seventh graders at a charter school in Manhattan and they know a little too well how to use Google, she laughs.

At Westville--a restaurant known for the veggie-forward market plates she’s enjoying right now because she’s starting a cleansing diet--Miri sips a neon green concoction that turns out to be a rather herbaceous mint lemonade. We sit outside and she shows me a teeny cabinet she just purchased from a gal online--she loves other people’s stuff because she loves other people’s stories, she says.

Miri is originally from Canberra, Australia--pronounced “Can-bruh” for the uninitiated--but has been living in New York going on six years. She originally came to the city to work as an intern at The Drama League, staying in a friend’s apartment in the West Village for the summer. She points it out in the distance as we walk up Hudson Street from Westville. She left and came back, and has been in New York since.

Living in Australia never really resonated with her, she says, because as open-minded as the country might appear, she felt there was only really one type of person you could be there, and it was not one she wanted to be. Moving to New York, she finally felt like she could be herself.

She loved it, yet found herself scraping by. After eighteen months here she sold some of her eggs in order to be able to stay. She did it two more times after that. It’s strange knowing there are at least three humans walking around the earth that are half you, she says, but she’s happy she was able to give people an opportunity they may not have had otherwise: the eggs of practicing Jewish ladies are in high demand because of the belief that Judaism carries matrilineally.

I'm surprised she’s telling me all of this, almost. Miri and I attended a seder earlier this year and she came over to say hello. We began talking about religion and men and the intersection (or lack thereof) in our lives. I shared more of myself than I do with total strangers, perhaps due to the flowing wine, but she shared in kind. I admired her openness and warmth and positivity, and we became friends. She continued to share her experiences with me and, as I learned, there is hardly anything about her that is a closed book (except, understandably, when it comes to her students).

We sit in Christopher Park and chat for awhile, light fading into dark, before walking uptown for a treat at Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co., where they make desserts out of pressed fruit and a little sugar. It’s a cheat from Miri’s cleanse, but a good one--she tops hers with raspberries and coconut and it becomes quite a beautiful production. Sitting at the edge of Union Square Park, she dives in.

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