The sky was cloudless, the bluest of blues and, in the days following Tuesday, September 11, 2001, silent as if it too were in shock from what it had witnessed.
The highways were orderly as generators were pulled behind tractor trailers headed south to provide light for those searching for survivors.
Drivers were patient and kind, waving one another thoughtfully into the flow of traffic.
My oldest son asked why the buildings kept falling down and I had no words to explain how our world could be filled with so much intolerance and hatred.
Our country, out of the ashes of tragedy, became the finest version of it that I’ve ever witnessed.
It will always be, for me, the divider between before and after.
This first week of summer vacation has been nonstop fun and shenanigans. I’m not sure I could maintain the pace for 9 more weeks, but I’ve really enjoyed starting my summer in gangbuster fashion.
A little bit of everything!
The U2 show gave me the perfect opportunity to spend some time in my most favorite city, NYC. I swapped some Amex points for Amtrak credit and indulged myself with a round trip ticket to Penn, arriving early enough in the city to leisurely walk to my hotel on 8th and 52nd. Once I dumped my overnight bag, the day was mine until Chrissy’s arrival in the later afternoon. The weather was ideal – sunny, blue skies, low humidity, truly the dream. I treated myself to a pedicure and manicure and then hit up a deli salad bar for a cheap and tasty lunch, which I enjoyed al fresco in Central Park.
The remainder of Wednesday was totally U2-centric. It ended up being a late night, but by 10:00 Thursday morning, we were on our sneakered feet running in Central Park. Again, the temperature was a dream and we wove our way around the park for nearly 7 miles including a lap around the reservoir and a quick stop at the castle.
Tree at the castle in Central Park
Following our run we cleaned up, checked out and enjoyed a terrific Indian lunch on 9th Avenue. I wanted something fairly light and they cobbled together a samosa chat dish for me that wasn’t on the menu. Following lunch and some walking around, Chrissy headed north on her train and, since I was on a later train, I headed south on foot. I hit up my favorite haunts, picked up the necessary tariff to get back home (cookies from Rocco’s for the boys), and took in the vibe in Washington Square Park, before catching my own train to Albany. Great getaway.
It’s a weird February when the snow drops are in bloom and the daffodils are already 5″ high in Central Park.
Speaking of things that are a weird height, the cool guys were all wearing pants that we would have called “floods (short for floodwaters)” back in the day. Lots of exposed ankles.
In general, it seemed like people just didn’t know how to dress for the weather. I saw folks bundled up like they were visiting Antarctica and others wearing flip flops. Our technique – light layers with gloves, as necessary.
Thanks to Quinn we scored the best slices of pizza I’ve ever had in NYC in a dive-y spot across the street from the Garden. Crisp, hot, great toppings and excellent cheese. We went every day.
Although I only went once, Macy’s provided me with the ultimate score when I found a gorgeous pair of suede over the knee boots. The original price was far more than I’ve ever spent on footwear before (or any other garment, for that matter), but when Macy’s has a sale they do not mess around. My beautiful new Coach boots set me back $51, approximately 90% less than where they had started.
The Meatpacking District has changed more than any other neighborhood that I can think of in the last 20 years. There’s so much good shopping and eating and hanging out to be had there!
I’m really interested to watch the Hudson Rail Yard area develop. Lots of construction going on there these days and I’m hopeful that there will be some new cool places to stay for overnight visits.
Running in NYC is always an adventure. No matter what neighborhood I’m staying in, I can always find my way to either water or Central Park, a fact that reminds me that Manhattan just isn’t really that big.
Since Manhattan is starting to feel small to me, maybe it’s time to start exploring Brooklyn and Queens? Suggestions for exploring those boroughs?
When I mentioned to friends last week that I was heading down to the city for a couple of days, they suggested that I visit Governor’s Island. Although I often stay downtown in the financial district, I’d never really considered taking the ferry to any island other than Staten and knew nothing about Governor’s Island. Our proximity, though, and the budget fare ($1 each way), made this excursion too appealing to deny.
Monday morning we made our to the dock for the 11:00 a.m. boat. It was a cloudy morning, but dry, and the super quick boat ride was comfortable and refreshingly lacking in diesel fuel aroma. We docked and made our way to the bike rental tent, which was just a bit to the right of where we had disembarked. Within minutes we were set up with 3-speed cruiser bikes at a cost of…zero. Yes, the first hour of bike rental was free. Talk about budget friendly!
We took a quick spin around the island, pausing to capture some pictures of our favorite lady in the harbor, and got the lay of the land. We saw the newly completed “hills,” along with a beautiful wildflower garden, amazing residences and brick dormitory looking buildings and an area that has been utilized as a training site for firefighters. I kept imagining how cool it would be to live on the island in one of the historic looking homes…amazing.
On our second lap around, we parked our bikes and climbed the hills to get the best vantage point of the southern tip of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The skies were clearing at this point and it was just so easy and mellow – no crowds, no stress, barely any expense. Phenomenal.
After an hour and half or so of island living, we made our way back to the dock and returned to Manhattan, satisfied with our adventure and pleased to know of another inexpensive option for exploring the city. I’d definitely consider going back again to spend an afternoon or take in an event. On the weekends there are a variety of food options, including food trucks, to sample or you can pack a picnic and go total low budget. Thanks, Colette and Steve!
As we traveled to NYC last Saturday morning my oldest son brought my attention to an event currently being held at the Discovery Center, Star Wars and the Power of Costume. We’ve been to a couple of other exhibitions at this venue and have always been satisfied with the experience and, seeing that my youngest is a huge Star Wars fan, this seemed like something we wouldn’t want to miss.
Sunday morning I purchased tickets online (even sussing out a discount code) and we planned our visit. I briefly considered just sending the two of them in, but ultimately was really glad to have seen the show myself. We arrived a little earlier than our reserved time and quickly checked our coats and our one piece of luggage. There were no lines or crowds and we were viewing the brief pre-exhibit movie within 10 minutes of our arrival. From there, we stepped into a moodily dark room and began our tour.
Even for someone who isn’t obsessed with the Lucas films (that would be me),it was an awesome and impressive exhibit. The costumes on display are all actual costumes, not replicas or copies. The fabrics and embellishments were remarkably rich and the workmanship so impressive. A number of the displays included fabric swatches adding a tactile element to the experience that even an 11 year-old boy could appreciate. Speaking of that boy, it was wonderfully gratifying to see Quinn’s eye wide as he took in the attire and weapons of his heroes. Worth every dollar. As for that bikini, it didn’t look any more comfortable to wear than it was to watch Princess Leia unknowingly kiss her brother. The bikini didn’t photograph well so I didn’t include it – I suspect you probably know exactly what it looks like anyway.
The first time I saw Robert Plant was at the Meadowlands in the late 80s. I was 21 or 22 years-old and had been a Led Zeppelin fan for as long as I could remember. Stevie Ray Vaughan opened up and absolutely ruined Plant for me. Stevie was just that good.
Since that time, I’m happy to say, Plant has come back to me and he’s been amazing each of the subsequent times I’ve been fortunate enough to see him. It’s like he’s grown more comfortable with himself, with who he is and what his range is these days. You might say he’s shifted his space, sensationally at that.
Friday night’s show was inspirational. Watching a man (nearly 20 years my senior) perform songs that span more than 4 decades, yet still remain relevant, is a pretty cool thing to witness. Catching a reflection of myself in the mirror and realizing that I was wearing an outfit (Frye boots, cutoffs, tshirt) that is probably just about identical to one I may have worn to my first Plant show, only added to the space shifting vibe.
I’m no rock star, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn a lesson or two about aging from a musical idol. Plant’s range may no longer be as wide, but his catalog has depth and with his awareness of his reach, he sounded great. Read this guy’s spot on review. The set list featured many familiar tunes, with the songs reworked, beats a bit slower, sung a little lower. They were different, but not diminished.
As we grow older its only natural that we, too, shift space. We move from being children motivated to please our parents and teachers to adults who often commit to being responsible for another’s happiness. Maybe that’s where we contentedly stay or perhaps we continue forward motion with a partner by our side. There are so many possibilities.
I’ve definitely arrived in a space where I’m interested in being who I am today. Me. I’m kind of done with taking directions, preferring to shift into a different gear that allows me to do the things I find most interesting and satisfying. I may not sing songs, but believe me, I’ve got more chapters to write. Ramble on.
I went to NYC yesterday evening to see Robert Plant and his band the Sensational Shape Shifters. It’s been a hectic week and it was so nice to cut loose a little and slow down for the night. Incidentally, what does it mean, when my life is so busy, that I go to the city to chill? Anyway, it was a lot of fun and we laughed so on hard on the train, I cried.
As you can imagine, it was a loud show and, this morning, I woke up with ears ringing. In addition to the left over notes of music in my head, I was also re-hearing some of the conversations from the night. One interaction in particular has replayed itself a few times and I’m left wondering if my position is typical for a nearly 49-year-old woman.
There was a guy at the show who initiated a conversation with me – something not easy to do when the music is loud and the show is standing room only. He actually even entertained me enough that I agreed to step into the lobby to continue the conversation, as it was about music and politics. We talked for a few minutes and then I excused myself to return to my friend and the rock god we were there to see.
As I took my leave, he asked me for my card, which I didn’t have with me since I was traveling light, sans wallet. He then asked for my number. I declined explaining that I wasn’t a person who just gave out her number. He reached for his phone to give me his number. I shook my head.
He asked me how I met people, had I ever been in a relationship or married and, if so, how had that begun? Wasn’t it with the bestowing of a phone number? I told him I met my former husband in a restaurant, we had mutual friends. He shook his head.
Is it weird that I think a guy should have to do a little work? You know, maybe get my name and take it from there? Be a little resourceful and make an effort? I guess I’m in a place where I just don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect for someone to demonstrate their interest by exerting themselves prior to asserting themselves.
What about you? How do you strike up new friendships? Do you give your people your number?