Thursday, October 29, 2009

OHS 40th Reunion - Chapter 1

There's too much to consolidate into just one post, so this will stretch out until it's finished. Along the way we'll touch on New York City, friendship, air travel, fine food of all descriptions and sizes, apologies, artwork, politics, sports, history and love. The Reunion is just the framework.
Chapter 1 - The Preliminaries

This is usually my favorite time of day. Errands are finished. Dinner's planned. The sun's painting pictures
right outside my window on the Pusch Ridge and I'm writing to you.

Today's different, though, because I have to be on the road in 12 hours to make my plane to fly me to NYC for the Reunion. And I still haven't packed.

Things are in purposeful piles, but those piles are scattered around the house. These are not procrastination piles. They are working piles. I just wish they'd work themselves into the suitcase. I'm tired. Neurasthetic.

I wish I were there already, and unpacking . Not that I'm wishing away the adventure of air travel in America (I tried to write that without the italics and it just wouldn't let me.........) but I'm checking my bag (obviously..... you don't think I'm going to New York City for 6 days with people I haven't seen for 40 years and only taking a carry-on???????) so I'm worried about theft and misdirection. Plus, I'm changing planes at O'Hare. Never a stress-free experience. And another place for my bag to go astray.

But I'm deciding not to obsess about it. There are stores in Manhattan, after all. MTF texted me this afternoon wondering why I'd not been on-line all day. How could she have known that I spent the morning chasing down a cobbler (to really polish my boots .... and he "didn't have time" and I stood there flummoxed and had no words) .... and doing laundry and sorting clothes from definitely to possibly piles and wondering if I had covered every contingency and then trying on my $200 jeans and being stunned by the realization that my great belt doesn't fit around these pants. She caught me in the mall, whimpering to sales people. The reason I love her should be clear from her response upon learning of my whereabouts and my mission : "I'm sure there are belts in NYC!!!"

I'm definitely not worrying about my bags any more.
Up at 4am so that TBG could drop me off on-time for my 6am one-stop to LaGuardia. (Yes, I live in a place where, since the economy tanked, you can no longer fly direct to NYC. How did this happen to me???) My packing morphed into another suitcase - the chartreuse Target roll-on the Little Cuter bought and left here on a trip home from the Big 10. It's big enough to hold my cowboy boots and my winter coat and small enough to fit in any overhead, even the MD-80 American stuffed us into. I'm not a big person, and I felt cramped in my aisle seat. Then the middle-seat person arrive - a soldier in fatigues. When they couldn't/wouldn't upgrade him to First Class (and yes, I did go and ask the flight attendants to move him) I volunteered to squeeze into the center. It seemed like the least that I could do. We all slept well, got food at O'Hare, and landed in sunny New York City.

The inter-terminal shuttle bus driver waited til I shlepped my bags up the steps and into the storage rack and soon I was at USAirways, waiting for MTF. Would I recognize her after 15 years? Just ask the people around us who jumped 3 feet when we ran screaming into each other's arms. Much hugging and smiling and looking and laughing ensued, a taxi was secured, and all of a sudden we were in Manhattan.
There's an energy in New York City that just doesn't exist anywhere else. Drivers have the lights timed perfectly, and our speed up slow down race through the intersection cabbie was a prime example. Safe and somewhat sound we checked in and gasped. Two beds, 8 pillows, a mini-fridge and a desk with a chair. And this was the closet:

Two women in Manhattan for 6 days and this is someone's idea of enough hanging space????? Deep breaths, more hangers, underwear left in suitcases... we were unpacked and on our way to dinner before we had a chance to get sad.

28th and Park, our hotel's corner, is the center of a vibrant southeast Asian restaurant scene. We found an Italian bistro with sidewalk seating and watched the world go by, drinking a "nothing special but quite nice" Malbec and munching on scrumptious garlic toasts. Eschewing their tiramisu, we opted for a stroll and some ice cream. After several blocks, we asked the 20-somethings walking their dogs for a suggestion and they guided us to Madison Park and The Shake Shack. Talk about bright lights and glamour. Under the amber glow of the Empire State Building (which, to me, will always be the tallest building in the world) we sat on a park bench on the edge of the picnic tables and beside the most orderly, spacious, smiling queue I'd ever seen. It looked like a long line, but it was moving, and we were tired of sitting so we stood up and found ourselves at the front in no time where we heard a conversation, off to the side, about Cornell. The manager is a Hotelie and lived near where we'd lived in College Town and then it was time to drink my yummy strawberry milk shake with vanilla ice cream and watch MTF neatly destroy her chocolate cone while sitting on another bench. There were Wall Street overcoats and skateboards laced to backpacks and lots and lots of very well-behaved dogs.

When I was a little girl, my all-time-very-favorite thing was to pile into Daddooooo's car and get Carvel. I can feel the dopamine rush just typing about it. The taste, the sounds, the whole idea of being outside at night..... this Reunion was really turning out to be a blast from the past.

We were doing a whole lot of smiling when we fell, exhausted, onto our really comfortable beds. No wake up call, no plans til 7 the next night, and a really good friend within hugging distance. Life is good


Walked the High Line and watched as MTF offered to "take a picture of both of you" every 50 feet or so.

Had an interesting argument about the difference between a weed and a native grass and admired the way the tracks had been repurposed:

The sky was overcast, but this building still screamed look at me!

The High Line wasn't much of a work-out, so we continued downtown through the Meat Packing District

with stops to shop and browse and marvel and once to buy some sandals. The merchants were genuinely glad to see us and happy to pose

and discount the merchandise even though I'd clearly mis-read the sign and really didn't deserve it. New York City was beginning to grow on us.

In Greenwich Village, the grid of mid-town vanishes into an Alice-in-Wonderland maze of teeny streets lined with cupcake stores and apartments to rent and S&M boutiques and more Halloween decorations than I'd ever seen in an urban area.

We soaked it all in but it started to drizzle and we were hotel-bound.
The Reunion festivities would begin at 7pm. It was time to let others into our little circle of wonderfulness.

It only took me 5 or 6 different outfits before we were on our way.

(Tune in tomorrow for Chapter 2 - Reuning)

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