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The Big Apple

Originally published on Facebook on 05/29/2019

I thought I would take a moment to talk about my recent trip. It might be a lot and it might be jumbled but here goes.

But first, some backstory.

I met Peggilee when I was a freshman in college back in 1990. We were introduced by a mutual friend and we’ve been wracking our brains trying to figure out why (we were parts of two different theatre groups he was a part of but the only ones he intermingled). Peggilee and I hit it off and became friends -we even went on a commercial audition together and the script they gave me was the definition of a gourd. Complete with unpronounceable Latin...just about anything having to do with gourds has sort of been a running joke with us ever since. Over the years, pre-social media, we lost touch, reconnected and lost touch again. Finally I found her on Facebook and we’ve been friends ever since...but I haven’t seen her since the early ‘90s.

So when my world fell apart in February, she - like many of you - reached out to offer me a place to go. A chance to get away. At first I just thanked her because how was I going to afford a trip to New York, especially now? But Southwest flies to New York now and we had the points and he let me use some. And with a free place to stay, I suddenly had something to look forward to.

If you have been following along then you know last week was rough. I sincerely thought about canceling my weekend...I just wasn’t sure I would be good company. And if I’m being completely honest, I haven’t seen her in nearly 30 years, what if we were awkward or didn’t like each other anymore? I am SO GLAD I did not cancel!

My flight was delayed a little on Friday so I didn’t get to her place until 1:00am. She was great - made me feel welcome right away. We immediately began talking and didn’t stop until 5:00! And even then neither of us fell asleep right away.

Sidebar: She lives in literally the best building on the block. I was expecting a tiny apartment but it was much bigger than I expected. It was a good size living space, a smaller bedroom, her bathroom was pretty small but functional. But that kitchen was tiny. I think my pantry at my Cedar Park house was bigger than her kitchen...but she does have more cabinet space than I do. I won’t be complaining about my tiny kitchen anymore though.

So we had a late start on Saturday - late enough to skip breakfast entirely. We walked around her neighborhood (Upper West Side) looking for a good place to eat where there was still room on the patio. Sushi, sake, and good conversation. (The sake was Demon Slayer sake which seemed appropriate and VERY good). One of the gazillion things we talked about was how I love it when I am out and about and people compliment my hair - its always a nice little ego boost. (compliment a stranger on something - it will likely make their day) She told me not to feel bad because this is New York and no one compliments anyone or even looks at anyone. More on that later...

Then we walked over to Central Park and walked around for awhile. I am not nature girl but it was so cool to walk around Central Park! It is really lovely - hard to not feel like you are walking on a movie set when you have seen SO MANY movies that feature Central Park. Almost immediately found an artist selling his wares but the one piece I was interested in was more than I wanted to spend which is totally fine because I found something way better a little while later! I can’t wait to frame it and show you. By the time we made it to the other side my feet were starting to get sore - yes I brought comfy shoes but we walked a LOT. So she hailed us a cab to get us back to her place more quickly so we could get ready for our evening out.

Weather had cooled down but I insisted on wearing my new dress anyway. I’m so glad I did! I actually felt really pretty in it - and I can’t say I’ve felt that way much this year. We walked I think a block and a half so I could ride the subway for the first time. I love the old tile work and how it differs at each spot. I decided to take photos at all the stops we stopped at over the weekend and I plan to make a collage like my Paris door knockers one. Any way we walk out into Times Square and it is pretty overwhelming - and at this point it was still daylight out. Made our way over to our theatre to see my first BROADWAY show!! I always wanted to be on Broadway as an actor but this was the next best thing.

We saw Come From Away which is a Tony Award Best Musical winner. Before the show I received a compliment on my tattoo but Peggilee said it didn’t count because she looked like a tourist. Once in our seats we had the chattiest usher ever - which Peggilee says has never happened to her in all her time in New York. The ushers NEVER chit chat. Back to the show...I wasn’t familiar with it until she got the tickets but I am actually very familiar with the true story on which it is based. It’s about the 38 planes that were diverted to Gander, New Foundland on 9/11/2001. They were grounded for a week and this small town nearly doubled in size in an instant. The citizens rallied together and provided food and shelter to strangers - without asking for or accepting any money. It is an actual feel good story that came out of the horrifying events of that day. So long story short (too late!) it is a feel good musical about 9/11. And it was amazing.

After the show we walked out into the glaring lights of Times Square. Seriously it is as bright at night as it is in the day time. We walked around for awhile - and yes, I received a couple more compliments which I think just floored Peggilee because she just kept telling me “that doesn’t happen. EVER.” I assert that at least 2 of the compliments were from men trying to get me to buy their CD but they did compliment me after I told them I had no money - I didn’t even have a purse on me.

To clarify I’m not bragging about the compliments...I mean, I guess I am kind of? But it is more about laughing at Peggilee because she said it never happens - I say if you smile and look people in the eye good things happen. And also, I’m not going to lie. It felt good to hear a stranger call me beautiful after my own husband told me “I like you, but I’m not attracted to you anymore” which hurt more than I can possibly express. It still makes me cry when I remember that moment. Followed shortly by him saying he wanted a divorce and there was nothing I could do about it.

After walking around Times Square we went to Harlem to Buddha Taco Bar to see Tchai and his girlfriend Dora. We laughed because he said he realized he invited a Texan to a taco bar in New York! I had the taquitos though and they were very tasty so good job! A couple of great drinks and tasty food later, and back to her place. This time I think we only stayed up until 3:30? I should have been exhausted after all that walking but I swear I could barely sleep. It was just so exciting being there. Also a random sunglasses company saw my Times Square photos on Instagram and long story short I think I’m going to be an Ambassador for them? You have witnessed the birth of an influencer people! HAHAHAHAHA (We will have to wait and see if they come through...)

Sunday morning she ordered in bagels and it was delicious. Right before we headed out I checked my email and found out my flight home had been cancelled and there were no good non-stop flights available. Spent about an hour figuring that out. Then we took the subway (or 3) to get to the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free so that is a fun and inexpensive way to see Lady Liberty. And it is amazing to look back at Manhattan and see the skyline. It’s hard to put all of it into words. Our original plan was to turn right back around and head to Little Italy and Chinatown for lunch but we were pretty hungry and decided to eat on Staten Island. Asked the cabbie to take us to the best restaurant on the island so we had a leisurely lunch at Blue (and I had a Sangria too). It was really good and we had a nice view of the water. On the way back across a storm rolled in and we barely made it to the subway before it hit full on. We decided to save Chinatown and Little Italy for my next trip so we headed over to Washington Square Park - I wanted to see the arch. But it was pouring so hard when we walked out of the subway station we decided to call it and just head back to her which time it had stopped raining. It was fine though - we both had blisters on our feet and agreed to a quiet evening in. She even ran out and got me a slice from the Original Ray’s Pizza - delicious - and a Black & White from a bodega (the bakery she wanted was closed). A Black & White is a cake-y cookie which isn’t really my favorite. I want my cookies to be hard on the outside and chewy in the center.

Once again we stayed up too late just talking. It feels like we’ve been besties all this time and had just seen each other last month. I know Facebook enables us to stay in touch with our friends even if sometimes it is just in a peripheral way but I think that really helps us pick up where we left off when we finally get re-acquainted. I’m so grateful to have friends like her in my life. Someone I literally have not seen in nearly 30 years but we picked right up where we left off.

Monday morning we woke up around 9:30 and she ran out to grab some breakfast. We talked some more before she had to leave for work. I packed my things and made my way to the airport. We both overestimated traffic and security time and I was at the gate 3 hours early! Luckily I had a book to read. I could have tried to squeeze in a little sight seeing before heading to the airport but I wasn’t feeling my best - I just assumed it was lack of sleep (why sleep in NEW YORK - I can sleep when I get home). Unfortunately they got us on the plane and then told us take off would be delayed an hour and 45 minutes due to bad weather in Chicago. Great - now I’m going to miss my connecting flight and there is nothing I could do about it. However I needn’t have worried because my connecting flight was delayed over 4 hours. I didn’t get home until 1:00am. And by now my throat feels swollen and like sandpaper...and I’m reasonably certain I’ve had a fever all day. (good news - not strep. Just a bad infection)

I have to thank Peggilee once again for a fantastic time. It was so great catching up and seeing a taste of New York. I’m already trying to figure out how to get back there. And thank you to New York for being a wonderful experience in so many ways. And thank Zach for taking me to the airport on Friday. And Xander for staying at my place and taking care of my plants and Spikey. And BOTH of them for picking me up so late on Monday. I love you all.

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