We really packed a lot into this past weekend! I already hit some of the highlights from Friday and Saturday, but Sunday and Monday are when things really got rolling as we were rested and out to really see the town.
As far as road trips go, most are the same. You eat junk food (beef jerky, Bugles, and Circus Peanuts were featured heavily in our rental car), and you try to catch as much sleep as you can before it’s your turn to drive. I noticed that I felt totally at home sleeping in the back seat of the car. It was like being a kid again, except this time I didn’t have to stay on my side of an imaginary line. Thank goodness, because the backseat of a Chevy HHR is tiny. Thankfully, we were the coolest soccer moms/dad on the road.
We were happy to be out of the car and into the city, and Henning and Dora put us up into a great apartment on the Upper West Side off Central Park West. Brandon and I took a jog in Central Park on Saturday (I nearly died of heat stroke: it was 1 in the afternoon. Thank goodness for the free water fountains). That evening we went out to the Boom Boom Room at the top of The Standard Hotel. It was an adventure trying to get in; we had to get in through a back stairwell. The best part about that place, as Dora pointed out, was the bathrooms. The toilets are about a foot and a half from a floor to ceiling plate glass window facing the skyline. Adrien had to hold on to the sink. I took a picture (no flash, you’re welcome).
From there to Hogs and Heifers ($10 cover for PBR and the boys had to lose their ties, not worth it), and then to The Beauty Bar (a working salon during the day, totally worth it), and then to PDT. PDT stands for Please Don’t Tell and you get to it through a phone booth in a hot dog stand called Crif Dogs. The dogs were good, I don’t know if PDT is anything at all, they weren’t taking any more names.
That morning was a little slow, but my little brother Taylor came in to town from Connecticut to meet us at 10, so we had a reason to get out of the house. We all went down to 5th Ave for a little shopping, and while down there, we ran into the taping of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, or rather, it ran into us. This new movie starring Ben Stiller et al had taken over the area, commanding people on the streets to move this way and that, and generally making nuisances of themselves. What was cool and fun (“we might be on camera!”) became annoying when we wanted to cross the street and cars were setting up for a shot. We had a drink at Fred’s, the restaurant in Barney’s, and ate lunch from a food cart. Later, we went down to St. Mark’s and ate dinner at Otafuku. This traditional rural Japanese steakhouse had us remove our shoes at the door, but provided us with a grill in the middle of the table to cook our hog jowl and filet mignon slivers to perfection. Wash down our sushi with some sake and Sapporo and we were happy. We traveled from there into Brooklyn where we met up with a friend from college, also named Taylor, at Barcade. Barcade is great little bar where grown-up geeks can drink and play arcade games all night. After a few we headed around the corner to The Metropolitan’s “Church” night. Since it was Sunday, the bartenders dressed as priests, and boy were those some good-looking priests. Some of our crew had a tough time making it back on the subway ride from Brooklyn, (alcohol+sushi+swaying subway car=disaster) but a good time was had by all.
Memorial Day and vacation from each other, and the city was out in force! We decided that after breakfast we all needed a little time apart before meeting back up for dinner that evening. Adrien and I went out and bought breakfast at Lansky’s, a deli that served spectacular Reubens. We brought some back to the apartment to share. After that, we all went our separate ways. Taylor and I ventured down to Penn Station so he could catch his train, and ended up striking up a conversation with a gentlemen who asked us for change, then proceeded to tell us about his Smart phone and his difficulty receiving overtime pay.
That about sums up how the next hour of my life went: Taylor gets on his train, and I find my subway stop, but the train is cancelled due to holiday construction. So I go to the other platform, and then I get on the wrong train, which is an express (but I don’t know this). I end up in Harlem at 125th street. I didn’t realize I was in Harlem, I just knew I had gone too far, and that I had seen a rat and that I was the only white girl in a prissy yellow dress in the station.
I have just spent the last 2 1/2 years of my life teaching in a pretty rough metro Nashville high school. The kind of school where weave-ripping fights are a weekly occurrence. The kind of school where people raised their eyebrows and said, “Wow,” when they heard I taught there. The difference between that experience and this one, however, is that I knew the children in the school, and I was also part of the power structure. It was an awareness-building experience to be just a little white girl in Harlem. I also realize that Harlem is not HARLEM anymore, but still. A little shocked.
So, the train I got on was the right train, according to my handy iPhone app. Except it wasn’t. It didn’t stop at my stop! What the crap was going on here!? The train took me all the way down to 59th. Thankfully, 59th was kind of where I wanted to go, because all I wanted to do that day was walk around Central Park, visit Strawberry Fields and the Dakota building, cry a little for John Lennon, and read and write in the park. All of that, I accomplished.
Maybe someday I will go back to Harlem and walk down Lenox Ave like Zora Neale Hurston, who I love, but it wasn’t this weekend.
We met back with Henning and Dora and had one last meal, at a fantastic Italian restaurant, Celeste. Best ravioli (sorry Ellen!) I have ever had. Only chicken livers I have ever had, and they were slathered in balsamic and delicious as well. Later, a night cap at Hi Life on Amsterdam and gelato at Screme. We took the ferry out Tuesday morning.
The photos in order of appearance are the view from the Boom Boom Room, Strawberry Fields, Brandon and Taylor at Otafuku, the travelers (Brandon, Adrien, and me) at Hi Life, and prop cars from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (I was really hoping they were for a new Ghostbusters movie).