As we drove in to New York City and out of the gorgeous Poconos mountains, John Bear and I started wondering if we should have stayed in our peaceful cabin. But we knew his little brother, Patrick, was overdue for a visit. Easily one of the nicest guys on the planet, Patrick gave up his room for the couch so John and I would have a place to sleep. His room, about the size of a walk-in closet only had a few inches surrounding each side of his futon mattress.
We dropped our bags on the mattress and headed out for a drink in the Bronx and on the way home spotted a mysterious trunk waiting to be picked up with someone’s trash. Patrick and his wing man, Thomas, decided the odds of the trunk containing a body were slim to none and picked it up.
At home, with the help of Patrick’s roommate they busted the thing open.
There were so many young dudes around I felt like I was in a college dorm again, only this time I felt entirely too old to be there so I acted the part and told them to tilt the trunk-wardrobe-suitcase thing upright to make a neat hallway dresser.
“And look, you would each have your own little drawer,” I said. So old. Such a mom. Can’t turn that part off, no matter how hard I try. And when I think about it, I’d rather not.
The next morning Patrick let John and I shadow him on his commute into the city for work.
After 35 minutes of subways, trains and much walking we popped out of the darkness at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.
We followed Patrick up to his office for a quick meet and greet with his awesome co-workers at Mammoth Advertising.
I think Patrick was really happy his big brother was there to see where the magic happens. By the way, follow Patrick on Twitter @professortruth.
After a few hurried instructions from Patrick we headed out to brave the city on our own. First we tackled the bridge of all bridges.
At this point in the morning the temperature was probably in the upper 80s, maybe creeping into the 90s but by the time we crossed the bridge, if you want to call it that, our jeans were clinging to our legs, the sweat was dripping down our backs and I think the temperature was into the upper 90′s with a heat index over 100 degress.
“A store, we need to find a store, to buy some new clothes,” I said. There was no way we could head back to Patrick’s to change, we may as well been blindfolded in a jungle.
“Okay, but where do we find one?” John Bear asked.
We hadn’t the slightest idea of where to go next so we wandered around the Financial District with a bunch of other tourists and dodged the speeding New Yorkers. I began to wonder why they were all in such a rush. A few minutes later after an incredibly rude visitor information booth guy gave us a map and a curt direction to Times Square I decided they were probably all trying to get away from each other. At the onset every New Yorker we met had a rough exterior, but as soon as we talked to them (typically when they were forcibly seated and calm, like on a Subway) they were nice, and it seemed almost craving friendly human interaction. Or maybe, and more probable, this Midwestern girl just can’t cut it around tough city people.
After a quick outfit change we did what every good tourist, yuppie would do and stopped in Times Square.
You can’t tell from the photographs but Times Square stunk. A few of the smells were so strong that even John Bear could pick them up, and that’s saying something.
There I met the two nicest guys in New York City.
“You’re not from around here are you?” one of the one on my left asked.
“Hell, no!” I said.
“It’s that smile. You are actually smiling from ear to ear, that’s how we can tell you’re not a New Yorker.”
So sad. To live in a place without smiles freely flowing. By now the heat was beating down on us. Even in our new outfits we felt like we were walking across the Sahara. The Sahara with the smelliest, stinkiest odors oozing out of every corner. Puke. Garbage. Sewer. Rotting food. It was bad and the heat made it worse. John Bear wants me to tell all of you that I have a super human sense of smell, so my opinion may be ultra biased.
After Times Square we started looking for Central Park and after a while finally made it to the shade and the trees. Utterly exhausted, we took a seat on a pocket of the park filled with sweet, young couples.
And then I realized we were one of them too. A couple. I often forget I am one of a couple now. There is an us instead of an I. A we meaning us three, instead of us two. I snapped this picture before leaning back into John, using him as an impromptu chair.
Up against my make shift chair I mapped our subway course back to the Bronx. Turns out there are two trains and two stops at Woodlawn, for the Woodlawn Cemetery, a 400 acre cemetery 30 minutes north of Manhattan and home to monstrous tombs, many of them larger than my apartment. Rather than take a cab or a bus to the right Woodlawn exit we decided to walk. But being so desperate to escape the people, the noises and the smells we chose to walk through the cemetery – the walk, the guard told us, would take 20 minutes (at least). We took it, gladly and enjoyed our first few minutes of relative quiet in over 24 hours.
That night we busted out of New York City, vowing to come back with more time, more patience and a more agreeable weather forecast. Rather than drive out the same way we came in we decided to spend our last night of vacation in Philadelphia. After the hideous New Jersey turnpike dumped us onto the the Philadelphia freeway we hit a traffic jam and stayed still in the Fiesta for 45 minutes. We sat there in silence, out of words and patience for one this busy world we’d entered.
By the time our heads hit our pillows at a hotel for business travelers, sterile and cold – it was nearly midnight. We slept like babies. Me dreaming of being back with Benjamin the next night and John Bear dreaming of heading up to Cleveland to grab Murphy. But all of those plans were suddenly derailed when we ran into an unexpected pothole the next morning.
To be continued…