Saturday, November 28, 2009

A weekend in New York: The fourth (and final) chapter

After Seasons of Love, Graci and I headed back to the hotel. It was late, and our feet had been in heels long enough.

The next morning, she and I got up early to take a walk in much more sensible shoes. We got off the train at Union Square, stopped in a coffee shop to treat our caffeine withdrawal headaches. Cups in hand, we strolled up Fifth Avenue.

We walked and talked, and before we knew it, we were at Rockefeller Center. We stopped to watch the ice skaters. Graci had the same reaction I did the first time I saw the rink, “I didn’t realize it was so small.”

I pointed out the least graceful thing on the ice—a ruddy faced girl with her legs splayed a bit too wide, knees wobbling, arms braced for a fall, feet scooting more than gliding her along. “That would be me,” I said.

“I was just thinking the same thing,” she said...and then, to clarify, “I was thinking that would be me, not that that would be you. Although, now that you’ve said it, I can sort of see that that would be you, too.”

She pointed to the most skillful skater on the rink, a young boy who deftly weaved around the ruddy faced girl. “He’s really very good,” I agreed.

“Yes,” she said, “but I think there’s something wrong with him. He has a funny shaped head.”

“What do you think it is?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

“This is why you should have gone into Peds.”

“So we could diagnose congenital defects at Rockefeller Center?”

“Exactly.”

She shook her head and rolled her eyes a bit. We walked on. Ten blocks later, we were at the foot of Central Park. “Well,” I said, “do you want to head back, or should we walk through the park?” As if I even had to ask.

When Graci came to visit me during the month I stayed in New York, walking in the park was our favorite thing to do. In the park, it is both easy to forget that your in the middle of a city and impossible to imagine that you’re anywhere but New York. On a cool but sunny early Sunday morning, it was full of locals—young couples with strollers, older people with their grand kids, and lots and lots of dogs.

We meandered through the zoo, pausing to watch the sea lions swim a few laps. My coffee was empty and we had both walked up a bit of an appetite, so we stopped to share a bagel and refill my cup. We ate our bagel at a small, wobbly table near the coffee cart in the middle of a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds. The entertainment was provided by a woman who fed bits of muffin to her three tiny dogs who sat in a stroller across from her chair. As they opened their mouths for food, they looked like baby birds, their stroller like a nest on wheels. When actual birds hopped across the woman’s table, hoping for a snack, she hissed and batted them away. Graci and I laughed.

“The irony of this is, apparently, lost on her,” I said.

“Apparently,” said Graci. “But, you know, that’s what my mother would be if she lived here.” It’s true. She already has a Chihuahua and a miniature Jack Russell terrier. She’s really just a toy poodle and a dog stroller away from Central Park crazy.

After our bagel, we headed back to the hotel. It was that time. A weekend that has taken me entirely too long to write about was, in reality, entirely too short. I’m not going to write much about what it was like to say goodbye to Graci, except to say that it was sad. You know what sad looks like, right? If not, I’m sure a woman named Ingrid has posted a picture of it online somewhere. Google it.

I’m also not going to write much about what it was like to actually catch our bus back to Baltimore, except to say that I am not sorry for yelling at that customer service representative on the phone. That’s what you get for working for a company that sends people the wrong confirmation numbers. You get yelled at. There are better people—people who understand that it’s probably not really your fault that the numbers are wrong, who understand that yelling at you does no real good. There are these better people, but they take the train.

The ride back to Baltimore was long. And boring. And once again, we didn’t really sit with each other. Blake was in the row behind me. I spent half the trip twisted around in my seat, talking to him. I told him one or two things about myself I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been so tired. He said all the right things in return. When I turned back around after our conversation, I had to swallow hard to keep from tearing up.

I never see friendship coming. It always sneaks up on me. It somehow both knocks the wind out of me out, and then catches me...just as I’m sure I’m going to fall off my skates.

9 comments:

Eric said...

Awesome posts T, I loved 'em all.

Terroni said...

Thank you, Eric.

dive said...

Beautifully written, T.
Funny, charming and sad. Damn, you're good!

Susanlee said...

I want a Blake. And a Graci. :(

secret agent woman said...

Those posts were great.

But dogs in a stroller. Dogs. In a stroller. Gads.

.j.william. said...

awesomeness. A glass of wine later I got to have a vicarious trip to my favorite city. Thank you.

Now I'm all missing on Brian and wondering why plane tix to NY are $300 right now...sigh.

Maria said...

You know, this is the magic of New York. You go and never come home thinking that it was boring or a waste of time. I have met the most fascinating people, including an ex cop in a subway, a trans, and a woman in a drugstore who told me that she attributed her beautiful skin to using Noxzema since she was 13.

And you know, the best friends sneak up on you. And that is exactly the way that it should be.

Eric said...

Hey, watch out for my fence. It left here Tuesday headed east at about 70 mph.

MmeBenaut said...

Merry Christmas little one. Have a lovely day.