For the first time in about two years, I went to New York. I didn’t intend on not going to New York for nearly two years; it just happened. I visited at least once a year from 2003 to 2016, so not going north of the Mason-Dixon Line in 2017 was a bit disappointing, and although I saw it was no big deal, nearly not going for Christmas and my wife’s birthday was a big deal.
I almost didn’t go because of Missy. Our original lodging plans fell through, and driving to Hampton Roads to drop her off was about ridiculous because it would have added at least three hours to our trip and the tolls on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (well, I probably would have rerouted us to the free side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on the way back, but that’s neither here nor there, much like how the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge are two wholly different things).
Renée found a dog-friendly hotel on Long Island, so the plan of me staying in Virginia to watch the dog was short lived. (For those of you just tuning in, Missy abhors any animals that aren’t humans, so figuring out what to do with her always is a challenge.)
We arrived on last Sunday, and Missy visited every borough that day (and the entire trip) except for the Bronx. Manhattan was thrown in that day because we got takeout from Renée’s favorite restaurant, Flor de Mayo.
On Christmas Eve, we got lunch before heading to Renée’s grandparent’s in Queens. I decided to tag along with her trip to midtown with Renée’s aunts because I had plans to meet my fraternity big brother near Penn Station.
The trip became an ordeal because some idiot pulled the emergency brake two trains ahead of ours.
I only had time to take a couple of pictures of Rockefeller Center before I needed to hop back on the train to get to Herald Square.
Of course I was late to my meeting at Stout. The friggin’ F train was delayed again. I could live in New York, but I would have to position myself in a way that I could avoid the Subway most of the time. I was told to take the LIRR back because I could get deeper into Queens and one does not simply walk into Jamaica Center after dark. So I took the first of two hip-hop pilgrimages.
We mostly spent Christmas Day in Queens, alternating between celebrating the day with my extended in-laws and camping out in the basement with Missy. There was another dog in the house, so we had to keep them separated. For the most part, there was an entire floor between them the entire time. Dinner consisted of ham, chicken, shrimp, string beans, macaroni and cheese, yams and numerous desserts. Coincidentally, that was the menu at my mom’s house, with the addition of roast beef.
Although the following day was Renée’s birthday, it began with a treat for me: New York seltzer and pastrami. You have no idea how much I live for both. If we weren’t heading to Renée’s birthday dinner, I would have also gotten knishes and matzo ball soup. I went to the Pastrami King. I’ve been Team Katz, but I’ll probably think about Pastrami King for the rest of my life.
After this food, it was time for more food. We dined at Chef Wang. I’m usually adventurous with food, but I played it safe this time. I regret not getting the braised frogs with picked peppers. I haven’t had frog since I went to Louisiana in 2010.
Thursday was our long slog home. Before we got stuck in traffic several times between Long Island and Maryland, we made a few stops. Among the first was another hip-hop pilgrimage.
On our way to meet Renée’s friend Chris in Hoboken, we were trending toward going through the Bronx so Missy could be in all five boroughs. Traffic and GPS (and two missed turns) had other plans, so we wound up on the Brooklyn Bridge
and through the Holland Tunnel.
This trip wasn’t the first time I spent an extended period of time in New York City with people who live in New York City, but this trip more than any other made it feel like any other city in America. I honestly don’t think there’s anything in the city I desperately need to see. Like Hampton Roads, it’s a place where family members live. Like Hampton Roads, it has places with food I love to eat. Like Hampton Roads, it’s a place in which I don’t need to do anything special. I just need to be in those port towns along the Atlantic, breathe in the salt air and see seagulls.
Although I love the mountains, have no intention to at the very least not move out of this apartment anytime soon and am afraid of the rising sea, I must return to the coast at some point.
And I hope many, many, many years pass before I have another without New York.