October 22nd, 2008
There’s so much to say. First of all, I’m going to write about my pre-flight anxiety in a separate post, because it was big and bold and ultimately, beautiful. One thing I almost wrote here before I left, was that I’d rather die in the air, than live afraid on the ground, but the superstitious in me erased it soon after I typed the words. The important thing is that I got on those planes and fought back the fear and lived a little. So there you go.
I arrived in New York jubilant. Relieved, exhilarated, overwhelmed and stupid. The very first thing I did at baggage claim is to accept the offer of a man to take me to his taxi. And after walking through underground passages, down dark corridors and across narrow streets, we arrived at his vehicle, decidedly not a taxi, but a nice big black car that would cost me $65. A scam, yes. But it felt so impossibly New Yorky.
A half hour later, I arrived at my hotel near the Brooklyn Bridge and laid on the bed. My brother texted me to say he’d be working a bit late, and I briefly contemplated making my way to the hotel bar. My pulse mimicked New York’s instantly — I absorb energy like that — and I wanted to be up, alive, awake. But the moment passed and I let the adrenaline and nervousness of the past several months sink into the mattress, as I lay there like a snow angel. Soon enough, I called Kizz and we made plans to meet at the hotel. Within a half hour, my brother’s girlfriend, Jill, met us, and then, my brother, Marky. After a drink, we decided to eat and Jill and Mark led us into Brooklyn Heights. After living in downtown Chicago for several years, I immediately made the comparisons to my hometown. Brooklyn Heights reminded me a lot of Chicago’s Lincoln Park and I poignantly realized how much I missed city living. There’s a bittersweetness about remembering your past. In those moments, you glimpse the other dimensions, the other doors, you might have entered, as you hold your present life under the microscope. I had a lot of those moments on my trip, but each night, I still returned to the photo book of my children and husband, knowing I ultimately chose exactly the right door. Not perfect, mind you, but exactly right.
Enough with the poignancy. Here’s the good stuff: we ended up at a tapas restaurant, called Bocca Lupo, where I ate pizza and meat and cheese and something with fennel in it, and the resulting taste explosion brought me fully into the moment. I was in New York! I don’t have to wake up early! I will have wines! And subway trips! And uninterrupted conversations! This was gonna be good.
And it was. After dinner, we walked to the Promenade, I think it was called, where I could see the tip of Manhattan and the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty in the distance.
After contemplating how much bigger my world had become, we eventually made our way to Mark and Jill’s apartment and talked for a few hours. The next morning, I slept in, and it was glorious.
I met Jill later Thursday morning and after a bagel, which I had no idea could get so big and doughy and life-altering, we walked the Brooklyn Bridge.
Man, that was beautiful. But then this happened:
Luckily, I first managed to walk to Ground Zero (a construction site now) and Century 21 (no one ever told me about this discount store, which if they had, may have changed the course of my life forever, a life that would surely be spent in debtor’s prison). At the latter, I purchased some Aerosole mocs, but it was too late. I hobbled my way through New York each day after that.
(I just had an epiphany: this is getting long and ultra detailed. My second epiphany is that you don’t want to wade through the details. My third epiphany is that I’m gonna wrap it up.)
Other things that first full day in New York: a delicious meal at Mercer Kitchen in Soho, complete with wine. (And oh how I miss wine in the afternoon, followed by an evening with no where to be but at a place drinking more wine.) Marky and I also saw Wicked that night, an amazing production with equally stunning costumes and big theatreness, but a little disappointing in storyline and musical numbers, if I’m to be honest.
OK, speeding it up now. My friend, Lis, now waited in my hotel room, having just arrived from Chicago, so Marky and I met her at midnight after the show, and took a circuitous and kinda daunting tumbleweeds-flying walk to the Clover Club, where we ate steak and hardboiled eggs and talked and drank until 3 AM. It was 4:30 before Lis and I went to sleep, because we had so much to catch up on, and strangely, I never once got tired.
On Friday, the multi-tasking, super-planny, kicky dressing, sweet and sassy Jill took us to breakfast at a diner, then to Central Park,
Fifth Avenue, Times Square,
and ultimately back to Soho, for lunch at Otto, where we happened to see Mario Batali, eating at his very own restaurant. (Upon texting my brother this news, he replied with, “Awesome! He’s a weird shape.”) And indeed he was. So we drank lots of wine. (Weirdness is as weirdness does.)
A buzzed shopping spree followed, where I bought a purse for $8.00 with a large tag inside proclaiming “GENUINE FAUX LEATHER!” To wit, I forget what else I bought, but I’m hoping pictures will remind me. In addition, “to wit,” is used out of context. And to sum up, I don’t care.
That night? Dinner at Mr. Chow (excellent), and an excursion to “BAR,” in the East Village, where I implored the 15-year-old DJ to play something other than Toto. I think my exact words were, “For God’s sake, I’m about to turn 40. Can you play some Kanye?” or something equally as anachronistic.
Saturday morning, Lis and I decided we’d see a Chorus Line, but then we instead opted to hobble to Mark’s apartment and watch the re-run of Saturday Night Live where Denise ate a cat. This was followed by a double decker bus tour, with a stop at a West Village bar natch,
a good cry at this sign,
some apartment karaoke, and dinner at the Queen.
(Except that it wasn’t. I lived. And so perhaps it’s the beginning?)
p.s. I left the pre-dawn bacon burger part of the trip out on purpose.