There was, it will surprise you to learn, a part of my vacation when I was not menaced by birds. Admittedly there were pigeons around, but I live in a city. I can deal with pigeons way more readily than I can deal wandering turkeys and geese.
New York! I went there. Again. I like it there.
That week feels like it was months ago, but let's do what we can here.
My parents let me crash their vacation, so the Traveling Kiernans shared a studio in a midtown hotel. Frankly, I worried about that, but it was fine. I did not have to sleep three feet away from my parents and, mostly, I wasn't totally obnoxious to my mother. I had a few moments, but cut me some slack, it was very hot out. And only once did I make my parents walk about ten blocks underground to get to the N train, when we shouldhave just gotten on the E that was right by the entrance. I still feel bad about that. Let the record show that I too felt that we were on a trek through the fiery furnace of hell. It was an accident.
We saw Significant Other at the Roundabout, which was excellent, as, indeed, is everything I've ever seen at the Roundabout. Unfortunately, it was a matinee which meant that when I had to walk out of there in the bright light of day, it was very evident that I had been openly weeping for over an hour. But that's why God made sunglasses. Short version: a young man has a group of friends, every one of whom gets married over the course of the play. Except him. He is single. He does not wish to be single. Also, his grandmother is cheerfully suicidal. It got to me. (I will try not to think about it too much when I go to wedding in two weeks since one of the morals is other people's weddings are not about you. Even if they feel like they're about you and your tragic, empty life. Oh. Um. There's also cake!)
Thinking I did not need to subject my father to more of that, our next theatrical outing was to On the Town, about which I was prepared to feel snobbishly superior, but which I enjoyed enormously. I mean, the score is by Leonard Bernstein, for goodness sake. Also, I had forgotten that when you go to a musical on Broadway, the performers are people who have been cast in a musical on Broadway. That is, they know what the hell they are doing up there. It's pretty sensational.
On a day that was about 300 degrees, we staggered down to the High Line and, thanks to a breeze off the river, we managed to admire it instead of just lying on the walkway in a sweaty heap. The very best bit was the new Whitney, which is a jewel full of light. Just look at it.
It's got gorgeous views over the river from every floor and outdoor terraces on many levels, a thing I'm not sure I've seen in any other museum. There is a perfect cafe on the 8th floor and from that uppermost terrace, you can wave at the Statue of Liberty. I am very proud to report that, according to the elevator man (who someday would like to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge), Michelle Obama and I made a similar joke about whether or not we could just move into the elevator (it is enormous and kind of fancy and air conditioned. You could do much worse in NY.) Mrs. Obama was there to cut the ribbon at the grand opening, I am told, so she made the joke first, but as the First Lady, that is as it should be. The Whitney also has art, I promise, but I have to admit I was so dazzled by the building that the art took a back seat this time around. You should go there.
Feeling we hadn't done quite enough sweating, we went on a boat tour that evening. It lasted about two hours, during which we were told an encyclopedia's worth of information about various New York buildings, neighborhoods, piers, and people. I remember exactly none of this information. In fact, I began to feel sort of panicky as though i might have to hurl myself overboard if I was given one more piece of data, but I suspect I was a little overtired. In spite of the overload, it was very impressive that the guide (with no notes) was able to recount that many facts and it was also interesting to see the city from the water. For instance, I found out that Brooklyn has quite a lot of waterfront parks. (The guide didn't tell us that. They were just, you know, there. By the water.) It was also exciting to get within hello-ing distance of the Statue of Liberty and take some time to think about how grateful I am not to have had to emigrate to another country on a boat. I believe I'm more of a "die in the old country of famine" type. It's disappointing, but I think it's true. And yet here I am on the very edge of the Western frontier. Thanks, ancestors.
Then it cooled off significantly. And I had a birthday. Talya came to town just for the afternoon because she loves me and she is excellent at birthdays. Thanks, Tal.
We had afternoon cocktails here and we're pretty sure we saw Yoko Ono.
I was more surprised by the boy and his not-at-all-purse-sized dog who were there when we arrived. The boy, who was about ten, was being presented with his bill. Shortly thereafter his mother appeared --from outside, mind you, not from upstairs--and greeted the boy (and the dog) as though they'd been separated for a very long time. She thanked the waitress for looking after him. What? I thought it was very odd that a mother had left her son to spend an afternoon in a hotel bar, but I admit that I was even more unsettled by the dog.
That night my parents and I had dinner at Bobo in the West Village, which looked just like I hoped it would look. Here. I stole this picture from some dude's blog, so that you can share in the glory. (Thanks, stranger.) See that booth under the window on the right? That's our table. It was a good one.
The waiter was told many, many times that it was my birthday. I'm confident that he understood this the first time, but he was very patient about the whole thing. Additionally, when he saw that my mother was trying to fashion a shawl out of a napkin, he turned the air conditioning down, which, more than the candle that did duly accompany my dessert, makes him my hero.
My last two days, I relocated to the Ludlow, where I took a guiltless drought-free bath in the huge bathtub and felt pretty pleased that I'd made my reservation months in advance when I could still sort of afford the room. I was not nearly trendy enough to hang out in the lobby (I tried. I could manage it for about ten minutes before I felt like a friendless 12-year-old at a middle school dance), but when my illustrious friend Michael came down to dine with me, we took our cocktails to the roof which we had all to ourselves.
And THAT was splendid. He then took me to some bustling place I'd never be able to find again, the name of which I don't remember (it's so restful to have someone else be in charge). I had some fish. I had some rabbit. I drank something delicious. It's all a bit of a blur. The place was packed. The tables were arranged along a bench running the length of the wall with chairs on the other side of the tables. At one point, the man at the next table rose from his chair and stepped toward the bench. I scooched over, thinking he was (ill-advisedly) going to try to squeeze in next to his friend on the bench. Instead, he flung his foot up onto the bench, startling me considerably. "Look!" he demanded, waving his hand angrily over his ankle, "Loose skin!" He was both enraged and horrified by this sign of atrophy, which I could understand. While my ankle skin seems to be holding up, there are some other regions that aren't faring so well. I empathized. I also laughed pretty hard. I admitted to their party that my birthday had been the day before and that surely. my ankle skin would be pooling into my shoe by Christmas. The man announced (he was kind of a proclamation type of guy) that he is older than me, though, so maybe I still have some sleek ankle years ahead. Fingers crossed.
On my last night, i had planned to go to a play, but in the end I couldn't gather the necessary energy to go all the way to Times Square to procure the ticket. Instead I went to a movie in the neighborhood and then had some bolognese at the Spaghetti Incident. It is fortunate that I don't live near the Spaghetti Incident in that I would be a regular and, consequently, spherical. It was a delightful place: bright, cheerful, friendly, cheap, and filled with spaghetti.
The next day, I was feeling a little reluctant to depart, but then there was a whole palaver with the A train pretending to be the F train, but only to 14th Street at which point it acted like the whole thing never happened and went back to being an A. Where the train might actually be going was a mystery to the vast majority of passengers, which is not ideal when you're headed to the airport. By the time I boarded my airport shuttle (at Penn Staition [A train], not Bryant Park [F train] as planned), I was ready to call it a day. The BART train from the SFO deposited me at 24th Street. Just like I thought it would.