Robert Frost (yes, a distant relation) says “home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” I posit that best friends’ homes are places where, when you decide on Tuesday that you’d like to come visit on Saturday and invade their life for a weekend, they kindly let you. I hadn’t seen Roni since last fall and hadn’t been to NYC since our honeymoon nigh on five years ago, so this seemed like the perfect way to catch up and avoid a weekend at home without Jason.
Thanks to a work thing on Friday night, I left Saturday morning at 5:30 a.m. Rather I should say I left Union Station at 5:30 a.m. I left my house at 4:45 a.m., which means I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to shower. This didn’t seem so bad, probably because I’d already done it on Tuesday to get Jason to the airport. I haven’t ever taken the bus before, but parking at Union Station is easy early on a Saturday morning and I made it onto the bus without incident. I thought I would read on the four-hour ride, but that gave way to sleep before we’d even hit Baltimore.
I woke up somewhere in New Jersey around 8:30 a.m. and was able to get some good reading done before disembarking in Manhattan. Roni met me at the bus and we picked up some legit New York bagels on our way to the High Line.
I always say this, but the best thing about a friend of TWELVE years is that we pick up right where we left off. Talking to Roni is the easiest thing in the world.
I absolutely loved the High Line. Already making plans to go back when the weather is warm and the plants are alive.
We walked over to Union Square (which I kept wanting to call Union Station) and went to the Strand Bookstore (“18 miles of books”). Jason had told me to check it out and it did not disappoint! I picked up Mother Night and a tote bag, since I had forgotten a purse in my flurry of packing.
Jason had also suggested hot chocolate from Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man across the street and it was cold enough to make hot chocolate worthwhile.
We took the subway up to Roni’s (very great!) apartment. This was my first experience on the New York City subway system and I had several observations: 1. It is so cheap! $2.50/ride is half what I pay to go to work at peak-of-the-peak. 2. Not having to swipe out of stations is cool. No fumbling for your SmarTrip card as you detrain. 3. There are no escalators. We DC-ers are so lazy. 3a. Unrelated to the subway: the Stand on the Right/Walk on the Left Rule of Escalator Courtesy doesn’t apply in NYC and it makes me anxious. 4. I like that the stations look different. 5. I saw a rat, but only one.
I dropped off my backpack and we headed to the Guggenheim. The primary exhibit just happened to be about Italian Futurism, which was the basis for Roni’s grad school thesis. The art was great and I loved being in a Frank Lloyd Wright building. So cool.
An ill-fated panorama of the stunning interior:
It was about time to start thinking about food again, so we walked down Lexington Avenue and kept an eye out for dining establishments. After a while we turned up toward Central Park, then crossed over to see the Manhattan Temple. I knew it was right in the city, but it was still unexpected.
It’s gorgeous and unlike any other temple, but fits perfectly into the surrounding area.
I love that even though we’re accustomed to temples insulated by acres of perfectly manicured lawns and flower beds and quiet, I felt the same peacefulness in the middle of a giant city.
I call this one Attempted Temple Selfie With Truck and Crazy Hair, Take 2.
We kept walking downtown, idly looking for somewhere to eat. We passed Lincoln Center (so cool), Fordham Law, B&H, from which Jason and I ordered our camera, and more pizza purveyors than you can shake a stick at. We also walked over a multitude of the sidewalk grates that allow for deliveries and kind of freak me out because I’m worried they will collapse at any moment under my feet. This appears to be an unfounded fear. We strode through Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea and picked up delicious cupcakes along the way. After a (long) while, we decided to head over to Union Square and have dinner at Bravo Pizza, a.k.a. Home of the Greasiest, Most Delicious Garlic Knots in the Known World.
Renewed from our dinner, we opted to take the subway down to the Staten Island Ferry. After an afternoon of walking, we enjoyed sitting on the way over to Staten Island, but stood out near the front of the ferry on the way back to get an unmatched view of the city lights. It was very cool. It was also very windy
We got back to Roni’s apartment a little before 11 p.m. I talked to Jason for a few minutes and then we played Scrabble and ate chocolate-covered edamame until nearly 2 a.m.
Day 1 Total Miles Walked: 10.2
On Sunday we got up early-ish and headed downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge (by way of New York City Hall).
It was a little chillier than Saturday, but not bad.
We’re on the Brooklyn Bridge!
We walked over to DUMBO (Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass) park and ate bagels while looking out across the river at Manhattan. One word: idyllic.
After breakfast we went to a bookstore to warm our freezing hands. Per usual when Roni and I encounter a vast selection of books, we ended up playing The Library Game, in which you carry on a conversation using book titles.
When we’d warmed up a bit, we headed down Court Street, which is lovely and quaint, on our way to church. The church building is pretty nondescript and from the outside kind of reminded me of the Lexington Y. We attended the Park Slope YSA branch, which is very tiny. It was fun, though, and we were not hit on by any Brooklynites.
We walked back across the bridge, then hopped on the subway to Penn Station.
My bus was scheduled to depart at 4 p.m., so we wrangled up some good at Maoz and walked up to Times Square.
Times Square is an experience, but probably one you need have only once. We wandered back and tried to stop by a bakery to pick up macarons, but it was closed so we gave up.
We did pass the New York Times building, though, which was awesome .
Roni walked me to the bus stop and waited with me until it was time to board. I read for a bit, fell asleep for a bit, and spent a surprising amount of my homeward journey refreshing the Kentucky basketball score. I arrived home around 8:30 p.m.
Day 2 Total Miles Walked: 8.5
I had a fantastic time with Roni and am so grateful she was willing to host me. I’ll always be glad we went on that first bike ride together back in spring of 2002. There’s something so nice about being around someone who knows who your are at your core and likes you anyway.