It’s Monday morning, and I’m sad. 😦
Today is my last day in New York, for this trip at least. And of course, despite all the best intentions of going to bed early, I couldn’t sleep. So I woke up tired, and disappointed that I had to head to the airport in a few hours. But there’s something to look forward to: I get to see Marc and Andrea today!
I met Marc nine years ago at, of all things, a funeral. My dear friend Ginger Pierce Davis had a heart attack at the ripe old age of 21 years old, an unexpected twist in an ongoing heart condition. She had moved up to New York and was living and working in New York City, and had fallen in love with (and moved in with) an attorney named Marc. When she died, Marc brought her down to Florida for the funeral.
I’ll skip the long details of the funeral, except to say that it was a horrible event, Ginger would’ve HATED it, and as Marc so elequently exclaimed later that night, the walls of the funeral home were fucking PINK. (She was a goth chick growing up) The only good thing that came out of that horrid day was that I made a lifelong friend. Marc lives in Jersey City, just outside of Manhattan, and had several of us up to visit later that summer. In fact, the first couple of times I visited New York, Marc was gracious enough to have me stay with him.
I last saw Marc about three years ago, when I visited New York with Will and my mom. We only saw them for a short bit, enjoying a nice dinner together, so this visit was definitely long overdue. When I told him I’d be coming up this past weekend, he was excited about getting together to hang out and catch up. Throughout the trip we’d exchanged txt msgs and voicemails about plans, and had settled on getting “brunch” on Monday morning when we’d have more private time together, and less of a giant group of strangers.
So yeah — I call Marc on Monday morning to confirm our plans. Turns out our 10:30 brunch plans weren’t feasible, so we decided to meet up for a lunch around noon instead. I put in a phone call to Thijson to see if they were joining us (Thijs was one of the original First Trip To NYC crowd so he knows Marc well) When he answered the phone, Thijs was, well, less than receptive…
Ya see, he and Jinilin had gotten up and gone to the Brooklyn Bridge for a photo op early that morning. And by early, I mean like 5:30 that morning. So when he answered, he was half-awake, mumbling about being fuckin’ tired, the damned Brooklyn bridge, and going back to bed. No go there.
So Jenn and I decide we’re on our own with Marc and Andrea, Marc’s girlfriend of many years. They had been working on finding the right venue for lunch, but because it was Labor Day, lots of places were closed. Marc suggested a picnic lunch in Central Park, which was the PERFECT way to spend our last few unattached hours in the city. We meet up, after several rounds of phone calls, climb over a lil’ fence, and sit down by a tiny body of water to eat lunch with some ducks.
It was great! We got to chat about what we’ve been up to in the years since we’d seen each other. I learned about Marc’s new job with a blind lawyer, and about Andrea’s management of a Jersey City bar. I told them about my plans to move to the city, and we talked about neighborhoods, renting vs. buying, etc. I learned all about the PIRATE CRUISE that Marc went on – yes, a pirate cruise.
Thijs and Jinilin are awake, packed, and checked out of the hotel by this point. They meet us at the park, at this gorgeous giant fountain, so our little group has expanded to six. We continue to chat about my plans to move to the city, and enjoy some water and pleasant company. I am even more convinced than before that New York City is home.
Finally, we realize it’s about 2:00, and we decide to head back towards the hotels. Our travel arrangements are complicated — we’ve got to get back to my hotel so Jennifer can get picked up and taken to LaGuardia, then head over to Thijs’s/Jinilin’s, where the three of us will get a car to Newark. We get back to their hotel and have time to kill, so we grab some seats in the lil’ cafe at the hotel. I get a milkshake. Thijs calls me a fattie. It’s sort of our thing.
Finally, after negligent service and lots of silence, we get in the car and head to the airport. It’s much faster than I expected, and we get to their Newark airport very early. And unfortunately, because it’s such a large airport, different airlines are at completely different concourses on opposite ends of the facility, and there’s no common area that you can hang out in… So much for my plan of chilling with them until their flight starts to board! So I leave, and make my way over to the US Airways concourse.
I’ve got THREE HOURS before my flight. Damn it.
So I’m sitting at my gate, ’bout to start listening to some music, when this cute girl in a Gators t-shirt sits down across from me. She’s talking on the phone, and I start eavesdropping because I’m a bastard, and damned if she doesn’t mention that her 6:55 flight has been delayed.
My flight, from this same gate, is scheduled for 6:55. My mouth goes dry.
So when she gets off the phone, I hesitantly approach her, give a good ol’ “Go Gators!” for the record, and ask her what she was saying about her flight. Yup, we were on the same one, and the airlines called her to say that the flight was being delayed and she’d miss her connecting flight to Gainesville…
So they rebooked her on an earlier flight, which leaves in about thirty minutes.
I HAUL ASS back through Security and to the ticket counter. I talk to Kevin, a US Airways ticket agent, who tells me that they only rebook people in advance for free if they’re going to miss a connection… but there’s a coy smile he gives me when he says that, and he’s giving me The Look, so I decide to go for it and crank up The Flirt. What can I say, three days of flirting with NYC Gays has given me temporary confidence… and damned if it doesn’t work. He doesn’t hook me up with First Class, but I didn’t have to actually do anything to him, so I consider us even.
I get back to the gate right as they’re boarding, and hop on in a hurry. Soon, I’m surrounded by screaming babies… Not CRYING babies, which I can deal with… but SCREAMING babies. I mean full-throat, top-of-their-lungs, somebody-call-a-doctor screaming babies. Even with my earphones in and the music cranked, I still felt a shiver up my spine every time they inhaled to start anew. For the love of God, why aren’t there transquilizer guns on these planes?!
Fortunately, it’s a short flight… We land, and I stroll on out to catch a cab. The nice thing about carrying on a small bag is you don’t have to deal with waiting around at baggage claim once you land. There’s no cab in sight, alas, so I wait around for about ten minutes… and when one doesn’t come, the driver is outraged that I didn’t automatically load the bag into the trunk myself. What can I say, I got spoiled by car service in New York!
I get home, finally, exhausted… Of course my first priority is to unload my camera and hop on AIM to find my new NYC friends! And, as expected, Sadie is all over me. I mean, ALL over me. It’s difficult to type, with her climbing all over my lap and nuzzling up to my neck and flinging herself on her back on top of my keyboard to be adored. Hey, bitches love me.
It felt so surreal, sitting in my living room, knowing that a few hours before I was having a picnic lunch in Central Park. It was great to be back in my condo, and of course cool to see Brandon and Sadie… But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had left New York to come for an extended vacation in Charlotte. I have wonderful friends here, and an awesome place to live, but damned if NYC didn’t just feel RIGHT.
Even in the quiet moments, when things were sober and chill, it still was an amazing trip. Nevermind the joy of seeing my old friends (many of whom I hadn’t seen in YEARS), or the thrill of meeting wonderful new people… Just sitting quietly and basking in the glow of the city was awe-inspiring. I can’t really explain it, it just feels RIGHT there. This isn’t the naive ramblings of a tourist after his first trip to the city — I’ve been there 7-8 times now (I’ve lost track), and the feeling gets stronger and stronger each time.
Alas, my plans to move there have been temporarily delayed. I had planned to move up around Christmas, but that isn’t going to happen. I start my new job in a week, and my future boss has gently suggested that I’d be shooting myself in the foot if I left Charlotte right away, because there’s a great opportunity to work with other leaders in my new group. She encouraged me to stick it out in Charlotte for six months or so before moving, which is probably a good idea.
That puts me at February/March for moving, and honestly, it’s a relief. For one thing, it takes away some of the pressure of a self-imposed Christmas deadline. It also means I have more time to settle my real estate issues in Charlotte and Las Cruces, both of which will be important when preparing to move… And it gives me six months to save up some money (thanks, new raise!!) and wait for my tax refunds and annual bonus at work, which will give me a tidy sum to move with. All in all, a wise course of action.
Of course, the draw of the city is strong… so this morning I booked a flight back up for Friday December 28th through Tuesday January 1st. That’s right, New Year’s Eve in NYC… I just can’t help myself.