my good friend amy is pregnant (due in late june) and i really wanted to see her belly, and repay the visit she had given me when i was preggo. we didnt want to deal with rental cars and car seats, etc. so we found a good compromise: a direct halifax to JFK flight that would allow us to hop on a train to the subway lines. the closest desirable borough from JFK is brooklyn, and the one time i had explored brooklyn with amy and tony i was rather enchanted by it, so i thought that it was as fine a place as any to stay and have them drive to us from nyack.
anyway, the day came and airport and plane travel went smoothly. the train and subway rides went well too. the weather was lovely and i couldnt have been happier. we had an easy morning, the sun was shining, and i was en route to see friends. to top it off, i found the subway ride to be very powerful. i didnt expect that. i looked around and saw a few airport travelers, but mostly people. regular people. a mom with her son. some blue collar-working men. students. all of them culturally, racially SO different. everyone had their own personal style in what they wore, but all of them screamed "i live in new york!"
i dont know, i kept looking around and felt the life, the energy of the city warming my veins. these people were just mundanely riding the subway, and here i was grinning like an idiot and blinking back tears. i love this city. it does something to me. every time. i dont think i could ever live here, but man, a sabbatical or a few months would just be heaven. you have everything at your fingertips, you can be whoever you feel like you want to be at the near moment that you want to be it. a mom on a playground, a foodie, a theater buff, a nature lover, a museum goer, a tourist, a family, an explorer, a shopper, a face in the crowd, alone.
X slept most of the subway ride so i could have these emotions all to myself. let them wash over me and renew my spirit. when she did wake up we were close to making the one subway exchange that we had before getting to the hotel. X seemed to tolerate the subway, but she wasnt super happy about it. i dont know if it made her nervous, or if she didnt like the movement, or the fact that we wouldnt let her explore (she wanted to sit on the floor of the dirty A train. um, no. i draw the line somewhere). but we eventually made it to our hotel. it was a stones throw from the subway and next door to a decent market, which was great.
we lugged ourselves and our stuff up to the room and...surprise, i forgot how small NYC hotel rooms are. no matter. i quickly got to work seeing who had checked in. i guess i should mention here that once i booked our trip to NYC i invited some of my college friends who live on the east coast (ntina and jody and their men ben and patrick) and dave invited his mom and sister. and everyone said yes! a group of 10.5 of us, some of our nearest and dearest, prowling the city. this could be interesting...
anyway, ntina and ben had checked in and were ready to hang out. daves mom and sister were also ready. we met in their room and decided to grab some food. our hotel was in a mostly hispanic area (sunset park) but there were scads of delis around. according to yelp, the "tasty deli" across the street had good cheap eats. dave and i have had a horrible time finding anything resembling a decent basic deli sandwich around halifax so we were looking forward to this. dave really enjoyed his hot pastrami sandwich and everyone else gobbled up their simple and filling eats. unfortunately for me, X was in need of another nap due to the stress of travel and visitors. so, i stood on the sidewalk outside and bounced her to sleep. i ordered a chicken salad with pita bread thinking i could just pick pieces off rather than try and bite into a sandwich with a kid strapped to me, but it didnt really work out that way.
anyway, no worries, our next stop was to stroll through the green-wood cemetery. this gorgeous sweeping plot of land was about three blocks from our hotel and had an elaborate stone entrance. very bizarre to see amid the very average looking neighborhood it is situated in (obviously built up around it many, many years after the land was established as a cemetery). we arrived with only 30-40 minutes before the gates closed for the night so we didnt have much time to check it out but we had some amazing weather to wander around the gravestones, pond, chapel, and paths that were near the front entrance. except for an odd woman feeding feral cats, we were pretty much alone to explore quietly this beautiful place. it was a nice calm way to begin our city visit.
(the entrance to green-wood cemetery; ntina and ben with us at the chapel in the cemetery; some of the interesting mausoleums)
and just as we were walking back to hotel after closing time we joined up with patrick, amy and tony. they had arrived while we were out and had come to meet us. now the only person who hadnt joined the pack was jody. she arrived shortly after we got back to the hotel and the whole gang (10.5 of us) were together. wow, we were a bunch! our rooms were too small to hang out in together so we gathered in the lobby. we had gifts for people and they had gifts for us, for X. it was like christmas all over again. although i thought the gift was just going to be able to see all of these people, they felt the need to bring lovely things for us as well. how did we get so lucky? i do not know.
our next task, the biggest of the day...was to find a brooklyn restaurant that would put all of us at a table. ha! most places are small little eateries with like a dozen tables. i wasnt optimistic. but, from yelp, we saw 5th avenue in park slope had a lot of highly rated places to eat so we thought that was our best shot. it was just a couple stops up the R line on the subway and we emerged into the hipster, family neighborhood of park slope (seriously we saw a TON of kids out. what an awesome childhood: manhattan from your window and a sense of community straight off your front steps).
its a really cool area that youve likely heard of if youve heard white people talking about brooklyn. it definitely had a "type" in terms of people walking around, shopping options, and overall ambiance. i liked it. and there were more than enough restaurants on the block with inviting lighting and smiling people to tell me we were in a good location. but who would take us all? well, we ended up at a peruvian place called "el pollo."
on a friday night, in brooklyn, at 8p this place could seat all 10 of us together plus a baby seat. and they were pretty well rated on yelp. and the meal proved that. peruvian isnt a particularly spicy cuisine (although they did have a yummy spicy green sauce that had jalapeno and mint as the main ingredients). mostly just basic beans, rice, and roasted chicken. it was good though. dave ordered the chicken stew with rice and beans and i flubbed up and got a chicken empanada and avocado toast appetizer as my dinner. the empanada was ick. like pre-made frozen ick. the avocado appetizer was good but wasnt filling enough. i wish i had just gotten what dave had ordered, or the 1/4 chicken, rice, and beans that everyone else ordered. my brain just did a total fail in terms of food today. :(
(the table of my lovelies. yes, im being possessive of them)
anyway, i enjoyed waiting for the food. i took X out to the sidewalk to explore. it was warm enough and there were all kinds of interesting characters on the street. she had a great time and i did too. when we would go back inside to check in, i would smile as i realized i got to sit down at a table with some of my closest loved ones. they were chatting and enjoying themselves and the expressions on their faces and familiar hum of all of their voices in the same space made my heart sing.
(amy and the belly that inspired the trip; amy and hubby tony; ben and ntina)
(jody and patrick; mary ann and megan [daves mom and sister]; aunt megan chatting with X during dinner)
every single one of these people traveled to see us. by plane, bus, train, subway, car. they braved traffic and took vacation days. it just boggles my mind. i really never thought i would have friends like this. i am so grateful. i guess thats why it gets so hard for me sometimes, being so far away. there is just such an enormous chasm between being alone and being with them. its pretty much impossible to fill that void.
knowing that i had them all at my fingertips tonight and saturday and sunday was awesome. of course, with X, it meant it didnt really have as much freedom to socialize as i have had on earlier vacations with friends, but for me, just breathing the same air as them and getting to lay my eyes on them made a world of difference. we rode the subway home after dinner and i went to sleep a happy lady. :)