Thursday, October 17, 2013

Week 6: New York (Astoria, Queens)

I’m writing this blog post from an airplane. I flew out of Newark, New Jersey and am heading back to San Francisco for a long weekend. One of my closest friends, Madeline, a former college roommate, is getting married. I’m also working with a professional videographer and editor to make a short webisode of Sweetie Pie this weekend. A pretty jam packed few days are ahead of me—and this after five nights in New York City, my favorite city of all.

Upper West Side
I’ve been to New York several times, but Larry had never been. Because it’s so expensive to stay in Manhattan, we found a really cheap—and what turned out to be pretty nice for the price—room in an Airbnb walk up in Astoria, Queens. Our place was less than fifteen minutes by foot to the R and M Subway lines, and about a twenty minute ride into Manhattan.

Larry drove us valiantly over the George Washington and Triboro bridges into Queens, dodging traffic, me helping navigate directions, etc. I was less afraid than I have been, but also grateful we were having five days on public transit so I could have a break from possible bouts with panic.

Times Square
We arrived around seven in the evening, found a cheap but delicious neighborhood Greek place for dinner and then decided to head over to Times Square. I  felt like walking through Times Square at night would be a good first glimpse of New York for Larry. I remember the first time I went to New York, and I felt like I was in a movie because the cityscape was that of so many of my beloved films. Larry had the same experience, joking as he saw the street full of cabs near 42nd and Broadway, “This isn’t real—they must be making a movie or something.”

First night in Manhattan
We stayed out a bit too late, but Larry woke up early, excited to see more of the City. We took the subway to Rockefeller Center, then walked up Fifth Avenue, through Central Park and up to the Natural History Museum, poring over the exhibits of African and Prehistoric Animals. 
Rockefeller Center
After a late lunch on Columbus Street, we headed back to Queens, so I could meet my lovely friend Margaret, a dancer and dance-maker and mother of a wonderful toddler. When I was dancing and making performance art pieces in 1998-2001 in San Diego, we took dance classes together, and danced together in a monthly performance series I curated and hosted at a venue I ran downtown, All Made Up. Margaret choreographed for my first full length performance art piece, and we spent some time talking about the trials of romance. We’re happy to be able to both be on the other side of those trials, with loving, solid men. I was delighted to sit in a Starbucks and visit with her and her three year-old daughter, Nona, while a storm blew threw Queens. Nona sang me a goodbye song, and Margaret and I said our goodbyes, hoping to see each other soon. New York City—for me—is so much about reconnecting with those who have creatively inspired me over the years, as several former colleagues and creative collaborators now live there. I felt full and inspired.

Margaret and Nona
New York also means a lot of walking—and we walked and walked—from the Starbucks back towards our place in Astoria, stopping for salads on Steinway, and voting for an early evening, making plans for the next day.

Back in the Airbnb, we researched what Broadway show we’d see and settled on “Once” which is based on a film we both love with a theme song that meant a lot to us during our courtship.

Freedom Tower
Early the next day, we headed down to the TKTS booth in South Seaport, got a glimpse of the Freedom Tower, the building that now stands in the place of the Twin Towers. We felt like prizewinners when we scored orchestra seats at half off for the show and decided to walk up through the neighborhoods to the Village, to have lunch at what I was told by a person in the know is the best in New York, John’s Pizzeria. We passed through TriBeCa and SoHo—and ate lunch, then into the West Village for dessert at Magnolia Bakery. With me being just back on sugar after several months off, the sugar high had me reeling. . .

We noticed some people taking photos of a brownstone on Perry Street that was cordoned off, and I looked it up on my phone to see what the fuss was all about—turned out to be Carrie’s stoop from “Sex In the City” which made us laugh.

Subway Station

Then we caught the subway at Christopher Street and headed up to Riverside Park, walking around near Columbia University and enjoying a glorious sunny day before heading back to 42nd Street and for dinner at a bar so Larry could catch some of the A’s/Tigers game before we crossed over to the Jacobs Theater for a magical performance of “Once,” which was true to the movie and so much more than the movie.

475 Riverside Drive
When we walked into the theater, before the show started, the stage was filled with people singing, playing instruments, and dancing and it turned out that they were selling refreshments on the set, which was set up in a bar (a place that doesn’t appear in the movie) and more than half the people singing and dancing were actually audience members!! One of the actors is someone I’d met when volunteering in electrics at the La Jolla Playhouse 30 years ago, just after I graduated high school. He’d played Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet back then and now was playing the guy’s dad in “Once” and playing a mean mandolin (which is my favorite instrument). It was awesome to remember David Patrick Kelly’s kindness to me back then and to see him on stage and to read that he’d continued to have a vital, growing successful career.

We stayed out for a little while longer and then head back, staying up way too late because we were so excited and full from the day.

The next day it was cooler and overcast. We took the Staten Island Ferry, enjoying the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan and Jersey City skylines, and the boat ride in general. We love boats!

Manhattan from Staten Island Ferry
 We had some time before I was to meet a couple of friends from grad school, so we walked around Battery Park, which is under renovation. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were closed because of the government shutdown. We then walked back up toward Wall Street, watching people swarming around the big bull statue, going into Trinity Church and listening to a string quartet rehearse, and wandering around the beautiful cemetery on the grounds of the church.

Trinity Cemetery
We needed to rest, so we arrived at the café where I was to meet my friends early, and talked through a decision to have me leave for San Francisco a day early, so I could be better prepared for the Sweetie Pie shoot I’m doing this weekend. So I dealt with those arrangements before my friends arrived, and Larry ducked out so I could have some girl time with Genevieve and Kitt, both former colleagues from grad school at the University of California, Irvine, where we were all MFA creative writing students. It was an awesome, inspiring conversation—and I left feeling more excited about Sweetie Pie and about the memoir project I plan to work on this winter when I’m holed up in Wisconsin. We all parted with the promise to see each other when I came back at the end of the month, and it was a good, rejuvenating creative jolt for me.

Trinity Church
Larry and I didn’t know what to do—we were tired, but it was my last night in New York (for now), so we decided to go to a movie at an art house on the Lower East Side and follow it with a visit to Katz’s. When we got off the subway, I was sure I saw John Turturro getting on, but I was so starstruck, I couldn’t say anything to Larry until the subway was gone.

The movie was “In a World. . .” which is a delightful comedy about a woman in the voiceover business in Los Angeles. It’s really a great movie about love, family dynamics, female empowerment, as well as the voiceover business. We loved it. Katz’s deli was a great New York experience. As we walked home, we discussed the restrained food plan we’d be ready to go on when we spend two weeks housesitting in Annapolis. We both love food a little too much, if you haven’t noticed! My alter-ego is Sweetie Pie. We’ll let you know how the new plan goes when I get back from the wedding.

We went home, slept well, and Larry took me by subway to Penn Station and put me on a train to the Newark Airport. We felt sad about separating, but each have good plans for the next few days, and will see each other soon.

New York in Legos at Lego Store, Rockefeller Center
Larry trying to blend in with the locals

Larry hung out in the Times Square area after I left, going to see “Gravity” in 3D and then hanging out until he could go to the bar where a group of New York City A’s fans will be tonight, rooting them on to the next round of the playoffs. He heads back to Annapolis tomorrow, for another couple days with his friend Charlie, and then we begin a housesit for Charlie when he leaves this weekend.

Thanks to all for following our adventures. We really appreciate your interest—it helps me keep writing this, and I’m sure I’ll be glad to have this record down the road. 

1 comment: