A day that started in Brooklyn, went past the World Trade Center, cruised through North Jersey, and ended in Brooklyn.
Ah, it's much less dramatic than all that, but I did get a really good shot on my phone.
That is a picture of the Fulton Transit Hub with 1 WTC in the background. Shot with a Droid Phone, only in New York.
So let's recap.
I spent the morning at breakfast with my sister and my niece, catching up over coffee and IHOP, expressing our differences of opinion regarding sugar vs. substitutes, organic food vs. non-organic and the appropriateness of singing in public. If I'm being honest, there was no difference of opinion on that last one. Singing in public is always a good idea. We chatted and laughed and talked about all manner of fun things. I realized I hadn't had the chance to catch up with these two in any real manner in months. The last couple of days had I had focused my energies inward, and because of my schedule and the three hour time difference, I'm never able to catch them on the phone for any real length of time. These two women are among my favorite people. After breakfast and a long walk, my niece went to work and I went to sleep. I've slept more in the last three days than I have in the last three months.
After my morning/afternoon nap, I arranged to meet with my longtime friend from college, Sara, who I haven't seen since my father's passing a couple of summers back. On the way to meet her I got to take the Subway into Manhattan. For as long as I can remember, I've always loved the New York Subway. Not the cost of it, of course, $2.75 is railway robbery. But it is beautifully efficient as a people mover. I made it a point to take the train to Cortlandt Street, first time I had been at that station in more than a decade. Cortlandt was one of the more heavily damaged stations in the aftermath of 9/11, and Hurricane Sandy a couple of years ago didn't do it any favors either. It was shuttered for several years until the completion of the Fulton Transit Hub. The World Trade Center was complete when I was last in town, but not open, so it was all kinds of cool to see people going in and out for work or what have you. If I wasn't on the clock I would have ponied up the money to check out the observatory. Oh well...
From there it was a trip on the PATH train to Hoboken. I've never been to Hoboken. Imagine my surprise when I stepped out of the station to find a city that seemed...
... well, a lot like Downtown Brooklyn. Great views of the skyline. Awesome seaside park. Vibrant, energetic, young. It was cool. I went to the W Hotel and hung out at the bar, engaging a couple of locals in a conversation about what's wrong with baseball while I waited for my friend to arrive. It was entertaining.
Here's a little backstory: Sara is one of my oldest and dearest friends, having long ago earned herself a spot on the bullet list, the short list of people for whom I would take a bullet, largely because they wouldn't put me in a position to do so. She was the first fan of my writing, which is what made me think "I can do this," instead of pushing for a more stable/prestigious/boring career in criminal justice. She's been a stable friend throughout the three major deaths my family has dealt with. I attended her wedding and congratulated her very loudly at the birth of each of her three children. She has stated that my atheism is the only reason I'm not her kids' godfather, which is fine. My Brando impersonation is terrible. I'm guh make youa offa you can't refuse...
We had a drink and caught each other up on the events of our lives. She was happy for me and my relationship, I made googley noises at pictures of her soon-to-be one-year old. She asked about my mom, my grandma, and my family, I asked about hers. She was supposed to be planning her kid's birthday party but her husband let her off the hook to hang out with me. I said he should have got his ass out here too. We laughed and talked and enjoyed company like we did 20 years ago in school. Then we realized how old we both were. 20 years. We are nothing like the kids we were back then.
We laughed loudly and reminisced wildly, recalling some of the misadventures we had as teenagers and young adults. Her son Noel accelerated her maturation into a grown-up, whereas I'm just now getting my feet wet in the adulthood arena. After a couple of hours and a brief tour of Hoboken (birthplace of Frank Sinatra, apparently), we parted company, and I headed back to my city.
Back in NYC, and eager to erase the Jersey funk off me (sorry, Jersey is still Jersey), I walked a couple of blocks around the World Trade Center area to find the one thing I had been searching for the last six years I've been in Washington... a good slice of pizza. My vacation goals are easily attained, aren't they? Pizza is supposed to be cheese and sauce and perhaps some form of cow, pig, or chicken product. The dough is to be made with mineral-heavy New York tap water (otherwise known as wau-tuh. My New York tongue returns!), not whatever it is they put on it or in it on the West Coast. It's not supposed to have anything artisanal or soy or low-fat. Dough, sauce, cheese, meat. In that order. The pizza place I went to, whose name I can't remember but is right next to the New York Dolls Gentlemen's Club, had two sausage slices that I claimed as my own (I was willing to do it Ariana Grande-style by licking the damn thing). Three long but well-spent minutes in the oven later, and I was snarfing down hot pizza while making sounds like I was really enjoying a lap dance. I even took the long way back, so I could enjoy my slices in pizza... I mean peace.
Wow, that was a baaaaad joke.
This week, I'm learning something about being home. It's not so much the place I miss. Don't get me wrong, the place is awesome, and I definitely miss it some. No, it's the people I miss. People I associate with these places.
Tomorrow is the last full day before I take off to London. Maybe I'll finally make it to Coney Island.