NYC: Day 3
Awake again. I have discovered my routine. Bagel in an hour or so; elongated desire sweetens the reward. When it finally arrives — toasted everything with low-fat veggie spread, with bitter coffee, with fresh squeezed juice — I can sink down into my day. Check my messages, read my book, plan. I find the route to PeekBrooklyn, deemed by the Internet to have the best leggings in NYC. It’s an hour and a half away, so I find a friend to join me for part of the ride.
Biking with Chris quickly transforms my rhetoric to dust. All the la di da, I bike everywhere. Piddilly diddilly, there are hills here. Look at me, I’m a badass. No, Chris is a badass. Riding his wife’s, my friend Jacquie’s bike, so small on him it’s like giraffe using a pogo stick. And with grace. He doesn’t even sit. He stands, pumping, look ma no hands, texting with his left while catching a frisbee in his right. Meanwhile I’m huffing and puffing, mostly sweat, bagel clutched between my teeth.
We end with a bodega and a walk. He gets a Gatorade and a breakfast sandwich. I look at a brown banana. And then he goes home to work and I continue south, meandering. See small shops and cafes I plan to revisit and lose forever. Bike around one park and along another. Lose my chain using the wrong gear going up a hill I didn’t have to.
I stop at a 7-Eleven for cash, see a thrift shop across the street and move in. Though first I do refuel — leftover bagel and Americano, view of shadow and sun.
Life Boutique Thrift is one of those that donates its proceeds to some worthy cause, thus justifying my excess. They hold my backpack and let me use the bathroom. I construct a bed from found materials and never, ever leave.
It was a sensual experience. When I first arrived I felt too sick to see. Half-sleeping on friend’s couches and trading vegetables for carbs and booze takes its toll. Even with the espresso I could barely focus. I wandered in a daze. There were so many furs I almost completely lost my shit. But there’s no way I could have fit them in my carry-on. Even without I walk onto the plane unzipped.
The other women in the store and I chatted, slowly. I like your bag. I like your scarf. Is this coat too big? Twenty words in two hours.
I tried everything on. Justified my upheaval with my credit card. And I am now the proud owner of a kurta, a Chinese silk jacket, a black and white button-down with just one button lost.
I did feel a little bit guilty that I used sunshine and balmy weather to escape museums, then hid in a thrift shop all day, but that’s a problem for another time. To leggings. To the bike! I find the exact address and it is nothing. An unmarked brownstone. Is this the speakeasy of tights stores? Do I need a password? I walk through the gate. I walk up the steps, through the door, into the foyer.
With the feeling that I’m breaking and entering I hurry back outside. Damn you, Mercury!
A salad, a salad, my kingdom for a salad! What a routine I’ve built: Bagel breakfast, half saved for afternoon snack. Biking and thrifting followed by writing, reading, salad. And later on, with friends freed from wage labor, booze.
I was feeling particular. Hungry enough to be light-headed, but still flitting across the street, back and forth, reading menus, unimpressed. “What do you even want?!” I asked myself at one point, exasperated. I didn’t know the answer.
Finally, Cupid struck. Dollar oysters. Salad nicoise. Completely empty.
I never had a chance to order shellfish. I had such fun in the bathroom — splishing and splashing and rinsing the morning’s toil from my arms and face — that when I exited I found the salad awaiting me. What delights I had not anticipated! No tuna salad, no green beans. Instead: seared tuna steak and freshest tomato. Biting onion and hard boiled egg. Capers and olives. And the cherry: fresh bread and olive oil the dankness of which only compares to the acete in España.
I feasted for hours. Writing, eating, pausing, chewing. I constructed many perfect bites. I stared into my waitress’ eyes. I was the only customer.
Three hours later I had cleaned my plate and written a thought piece about my current political and economic affiliations where I concluded that I am furthering systemic inequalities for the sake of my own comfort and ego. I tipped extravagantly and bounced.
It was time for dim sum. Time to bike over the Manhattan bridge, gasp at the skyline and continue living. In Chinatown I saw mysteries being unloaded from 18 wheelers and a poster for a lost dog that broke my heart.
I was the first of my friends to arrive. The restaurant had a C rating; I entered cautiously. Luckily they’re closing, done serving for the night. My friends and I were forced to go elsewhere. We settled upon a place with escalators and an A.
Escalating up we hear gongs and bells. At the top we stumble into a wedding. Purple and white flowers; endless lobster. Our dinner is more modest. Steamed dumplings split between the meat eaters. Steamed dumplings split between the vegetarians. Too much hot sauce, juicy oranges, telling fortunes. “Including others in your life will bring you great happiness.” What a thing to say to a satisfied loner in Seattle revisiting best friendship on the other coast!
We go to a nearby speakeasy after dinner. This month’s password is the cat’s meow.
It’s dark inside. A long haired girl sings softly. I spend $20 on the cocktail that most closely resembles a Manhattan. I sample my friend’s egg whites and gin. I scowl at the girls clueless that a camera flash ruins ambiance. I sip my whiskey, Vermouth and absinthe, then it’s back to Astoria again.