some of the best days of life

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I had one of the best days of my life in New York this past weekend. It contained no sex, no winning of the lottery, and no awards. It did involve three terrific meals (not all of them expensive and the best one was the cheapest meal of all), friends, the kind of hard-rocking, perpetual laughter that makes me surprised that it did not result in washboard abs (*sigh*), New York City (pretty much the ENTIRE island), and lots and lots of synchronicity/serendipity/magic/whatever you want to call it.

I met a friend for the first time “irl” with Randa that day, a Saturday, for brunch in Greenwich Village. We probably astounded C with our boisterous laughter but hey, when we talk hysterically about urinal cakes (“Is that like…a CARROT CAKE?!”) on our first meet, it can’t be all bad, right? I hope the magic from our day transferred onto her person and that she is forever blessed, as much as I feel I was blessed from that day.

After we looked at costume jewelry for like an hour (I gave in and bought a little rhinestone hairclip and now I wonder if it’s a magical clip and so I shall wear it), Randa and I then took a train uptown, in search of Topshop but instead we found her wedding dress (or maybe it found us) from a baffled sweetheart of a Persian Jewish shopkeeper who asked, “If she is Palestinian, how does she know Hebrew?” and then asked me, “You are Jewish?” and after asking about my husband’s family (they’re Israeli but ethnically Polish and Iraqi) he asked Randa who she’s marrying (someone of Irish descent). Wobbedy wobbedy wobbedy–you could see the look on his face! It was supersweet.

We never found Topshop. It didn’t exist.

We ambled on uptown and she murmured, “Yaddo.” Wuh? Dude, Yaddo is in UPSTATE New York. “Yaddo,” she said, now pointing at the sign saying “YADDO” on the side of a building portico with multiple columns that reminded me of the scene in “Sex and the City” where Carrie runs down the stairs in her wedding dress. Um. Because it was the New York Public Library.

And now come to think of it, there’s now a wedding theme going on in this story, too.

Oh. Daaaamn. “That’s the Yaddo exhibit!” I squealed. Yes, the exhibit with all the artifacts from Yaddo (including letters (Flannery O’Connor, Henry Roth, Clyfford Still, etc.) and original applications from James Baldwin (poor dude didn’t pay his phone bill and also partied so hard they never let him come back) and Truman Capote, etc., etc.)…I wanted to take so many pictures! But I didn’t. Because it wasn’t allowed. And because the guards kept a close eye on us. (Why is it wherever we went, security guards would smile and say, “Uh OH!”).

We’d just seen Clyfford Still’s work in the MoMA the day previous. And talked about Henry Roth at breakfast. Magic. Oh come on, there were more coincidences too, not just those two, in the entire day. It was MAGIC, I tell you.

Having obsessed over Junot Diaz’s Gourmet magazine article from two years past (I emailed him from my crackberry to let him know–like he would even CARE!), we continued uptown, towards Dominican food at Margot Restaurant. Or rather, we continued towards where we THOUGHT it was, and ended up at 125th and Lex wondering, “Where the fuck is the Dominican food?!”

And took a cab. Crosstown.

The wrong cab.

But not so wrong that we weren’t entertained by the self-pitying newbie taxi driver whose first day on the job was…that very day. We were the last customers on his 12 hour shift. He had NO IDEA where 159th and Broadway was. He had NO IDEA where Washington Heights was (dude! get a MAP!).

We got lost, we got a great tour of Upper Manhattan and of Dyckman, and finally navigated him (the slightly less blind leading the blind) to our destination. Where we had AMAZING Dominican food at Margot’s. And laughed our asses off for a couple more hours, hogging a table at a crowded restaurant, and eating up all the res guisado and beans and fried plantains and morir sonando. I would call it ‘da shit…but I feel awkward commending food by calling it shit. But it was amazing, and we were on a high.

The wind was coming in freezing cold, and even I, the person who LOVES the cold found it “kind of chilly,” and so we made our way quickly to the subway which we took to 80th and Broadway to Zabar’s (where we got mugs) and then we walked to a liquor store (where I greeted the old Korean shopkeeper with a smile and a Korean greeting and he looked at me like, “Why don’t you speak ENGLISH”–so funny because earlier that week, I asked for a map of the MoMA and the docent asked, “What language?” And I said ENGLISH!) and then we walked along the park, and we never stopped talking or laughing until we got back to the apartment in which I was staying (the pipes that play morse code!)–and then we went out again and had sushi in SoHo and I drank water (yes water, because I am so afraid of hangovers) in a bar at last call and then oh so reluctantly, I fell asleep, afraid to end the blessed and magical day.

The rest of the trip was so sweet too–I hung out with my fairy g*dmother, loudw who has blessed me with such goodness and opportunity and met her little doggie and of course chowed down on Korean food (tofu dolsot bibimbap!) with Nova who also makes me feel like goodness exists everywhere. I saw an old high school buddy for lunch, and met Alex for drinks with Randa (the day of 7 meals!), and went to Queens and soaked up everything I could for my novel. The only thing I forgot to do was go visit a synagogue.

Oh well–I guess like after a good date with a hot person, sometimes you leave something behind so that they’ll call you back…I told New York to gimme a call.

It was one of the best trips of my life. Those days were pitch perfect and I will cherish them and all the people and events in them forever.

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13 Comments

Filed under Inspiring, Life, Travel

13 responses to “some of the best days of life

  1. amapofhome

    So fantabulous!!! That was one of the best days of my life ever. I am so so happy that you’ve recorded it here. And I am so so lucky to have a friend like you ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Lucy

    That is so awesome! I love reading about days like those.

  3. chaesq

    I need to go into a men’s bathroom so I can finally know, once and for all, what a urinal cake REALLY looks like.

  4. amapofhome: ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lucy: beats all the bummer news out there these days!

    chaesq: “Hi, can I please uh, go into the men’s restroom? I uh, have uh, some research, I mean, uh, I need to see a urinal cake…” ๐Ÿ™‚

    I wonder…yes! I just searched for “urinal cake” on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=urinal%20cake&w=all

  5. Oh, I just loved reading this. I’ve had a few days like this and it makes me long for one, again. So glad you had such a magical time – you deserve it!

  6. I’m so pleased that the Yaddo exhibition was part of your excellent day!

  7. anonwupfan

    Nice. Your breathless debriefing speaks for itself. I’m glad our hero is feeling refreshed. Good for you JP and a big Thank You to JP’s IRL friends!

    Hmmm, Mrs. AWUPF is also mystified by the idea of the urinal cake, it must be a lot like how you guys have to go to the bathroom together. I’d suggest avoiding the big city urinal cake for a first timer–too risky–maybe something in an outer ring suburb, someplace corporate and frequently cleaned.

    โ€œkind of chillyโ€ = AHA! I knew it! Caught you! Now just imagine that it NEVER ENDS! That is what winter is REALLY like. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  8. It sounds perfect, all of it. I loved hearing about James Baldwin and the food, man, that really makes me hungry.

  9. Micki: I am too–I’d known about it, but forgotten. So good to have run into the show.

    anonwupfan: Yes, it was a rejuvenating experience–like a spiritual facelift, really! (even with the cold–which I, for the most part, LOVED–except for that persistent wind in Upper Manhattan). I knew what a urinal cake was (having been in a men’s restroom several times in my life for various reasons ranging from debauchery to an innocent accident)–but when the server said, “doesn’t it smell like a urinal cake here?” I had to tell hiim with much amusement, “I–don’t know what one would smell like…” To which he replied with “Oh! Of course!” And then the table (full of female friends) was in a titter–what IS a urinal cake, they asked! ๐Ÿ™‚

    bloglily: I know! The James Baldwin part of the exhibition was most interesting–they had his entire file on display. So if you should go to MacDowell, behave–lest your actions be on display post mortem!

  10. Eve

    Oh, this sounds wonderful, and exactly (in spirit) like the fantastic days I’ve had in NYC… and why it is my favorite city in the world. You make me wistful.

  11. 5redpandas

    I’m glad you got a little tour of the ‘hoods, Washington Heights and Inwood- the lands of Dominican food. One of the restaurants mentioned in Diaz’s piece, Malecon, is one of my go-to take out places. They claim to be the kings of rotisserie chicken and I haven’t found a reason to dispute that claim. Eating in at Malecon is good too, and cheap.

    Glad you enjoyed the hell out of your stay in New York!

  12. Eve: It is the most amazing place.

    5redpandas: I’m going to Malecon someday! We were actually trying to FIND Malecon but we were too cold to venture forth to Malecon from Margot’s. I totally enjoyed the hell out of my stay in NYC. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Pingback: 2009 good things « Writing Under a Pseudonym

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