Monday, August 8, 2011

Mountain Woman Takes Manhattan Part 1

For my birthday my Good Man took me on a trip to NY.  He arranged for my mom to come up and watch the boys so that it would just be the two of us.  I had only been to NY one other time, about 2 years ago, with my friend, Lesley.  We stayed with Olivia and Ben in their adorable little apartment near Harlem.  The two of them took us all over the city.  It was awesome having our own private tour guides. 

I was a little apprehensive as to how this trip would go.  Though we were hoping to catch up with Ben and O for dinner, we would not have them to GPS for us.  We would be maneuvering through the city on our own.  We would be landing in Newark so I was already concerned as to how to get from there to our hotel across from Madison Square Garden.  I called Christina the night before we left and left her a message to call me if she knew what trains to take to get us to the hotel.

"Hey Baby," Aaron interrupted my call, "I've already got that taken care of."

"You do?  How?  There must be a website somewhere..."

"No.  Just...I've got it taken care of."

At the airport I informed Aaron of my side mission while in The City.  While we were to be in NY, another friend of mine was vacationing in Hawaii.  We had decided to have a photo-scavenger hunt of sorts.  I had to take silly pictures of Aaron and I doing something uniquely New York-ian and she had to take silly pictures with her travel companion doing something uniquely Hawaiian. 

"We both have to be in the picture, Aaron and we both have to be posing funny."

"Great," Aaron said.

After landing and getting our luggage Aaron made a phone call to a guy named Deano.  (I kid you not.)  Deano from Jersey met us at the curb in a Suburban.  He jumped out in a dark grey suit, opened the doors, loaded our bags and welcomed us to Jersey with an accent thicker then those guys on The Jersey Shore.  Apparently, one of the companies that Aaron does business with uses Deano's services and arranged the "lift" for us.  I was thrilled to bits because the thing I love about NY is seeing the stereotypes in real life: the rat in the subway, the crazy lady yelling at her imaginary foe, the Italian guy from Jersey with the slicked back hair giving "what for" to someone over his cell while punishing a piece of gum.  Classic! 

We pulled up to our hotel, a beautiful building with "Hotel Pennsylvania" in gilded letters over the canopied entrance.  Deano unloaded the luggage and told Aaron he would pick us up to return us to the airport when our trip was over. 

Hotel Pennsylvania.  What the hell?  Like a lot of the buildings in NY, this one is old.  That's another thing about NY that I love.  The juxtaposition of modern skyscrapers sandwiched in with pre-war architecture is  a very present reminder of the history of the city.  Hotel Pennsylvania is one of those fabulous older buildings but it has not been well kept.  The carpets were once very fine but are now faded and worn.  The paint on the walls were chipping.  The brass accents were in need of polishing.  Our whole stay there I felt like we were visiting a foreign country.  The front desk was staffed by 4-5 foreign people all from different countries.  It was both check-in and money exchange.  Behind the clerks was a long row of television monitors all playing CNN and stock market tickers.  The clerks were efficient but terse.  They offered no extra information and no well wishes for your visit. 

Aaron and I boarded the small elevator. We were followed by probably 8 more people and their luggage, all of us from other lands and speaking other languages.  Later I reminded Aaron that New Yorkers and many of it's visitors have no concept of "personal space."  There are too many bodies going to the same places to make room for "space."  The elevators also had TV monitors with CNN blaring.  The elevator went up and at every stop, shook from side to side.  Awesome.

Our room: white walls, no art.  There was a bed, a TV, a desk and a teeny tiny bathroom.

"This bathroom is not much bigger then Ben and Olivia's," I told Aaron.  Another NY trait.  Tiny bathrooms.  Space is an issue everywhere.  I opened our curtains, expecting a view of a roof top.  There were many roof tops and rising from it all a tall skyscraper that I was certain was the Empire State Building. 

"That's not the Empire State Building," Aaron said from behind me, "doesn't look old enough..."

"Huh...I guess you're right.  Seems to me it should be more ornate."

After freshening up we met up with Ben and O and headed out for dinner.  It was lightly raining.  I kept at a quick clip to keep up with Olivia's long strides in order to share her umbrella. She had a place in mind that she hoped to take us to but when we got there it was closed.  We tried to find a place out of the walking traffic to pow-wow and choose a new spot.  I think it was Ben who had a new suggestion.

"It's a diner," Olivia said.

"Sounds good!  We are game for anything," I told her.

"Alright then!  It's so cliche.  A New York City diner.  Ha!"

"That's exactly why I love the idea!"  I said.

Once at the diner we all placed our orders.  Everyone else chose a breakfast omelette of sorts (Olivia's with turkey sausage) but I ordered a delicious bow tie pasta cooked in olive oil with scallions, mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes.  While waiting for our meals Olivia filled me in on the "behind the scenes" of The Biggest Loser and of what is in store for her next.  She just got her copy of Fitness magazine with she and Hannah on the cover.

"No one in Biggest Loser history has been on the cover of Fitness!" she excitedly exclaimed.  "Jillian Michaels was just on Fitness two months ago," she said in awed disbelief that she was sharing the same honor.

Our food arrived as we continued to catch up on one anothers lives.  Olivia and Hannah had been offered a job on Dr. Drew's new television show improvement (I guess is how to describe it.  Over coming addictions and things.)  Hannah and O will host the fitness portion of the show; helping others who are struggling with their weight to get in shape.

"This tastes like pig!"  Olivia suddenly exclaimed mid-conversation.  "Ben, taste this.  I don't think they gave me turkey sausage."

Ben took a bite.

"If that's turkey I want to know the brand.  That's really good...." Ben said with a pleased expression.

"Will you ask the waitress when she comes back by?  Double check for me.  She's going to say it's turkey but I know what pig tastes like.  I've gone too long with out it to not know the difference."

Aaron and I were cracking up at this whole conversation.  The rest of our trip "This tastes like pig!" (said in Olivia's southern accent with emphasis on the word "pig") was our new catch phrase.

Way to go though, Olivia! 
"It's all about making healthy choices," she said.

After dinner I told Ben and Olivia about our side mission while on vacation.

"I think it would be fun to have you in the pic too," I told Olivia.

Ben obliged to being the photographer:

With hugs, kisses and instructions from Ben on how to return to our hotel; we parted ways at the corner diner.  On our way home Aaron and I passed an Irish Pub called Blaggers. We decided to pop in and enjoy a pint.  The bar was another New York City cliche in both appearance and patronage.  I was pleased as punch!  The bartender was an Irishman who immediately pegged us for tourists (apparently we were cliche as well.)  He gave us his recommendations for enjoying The City.  Upon learning that we were there to celebrate my birthday he lined up shot glasses.

"Oh no.  I don't 'do' shots,"  I told him.

"You do tonight," he insisted, "what will it be?" 

"Those aren't all for me are they?"  I asked noticing the three shot glasses.

"Nah," he winked, "we're all going to celebrate."

"One then," I said, "Something sweet please."

He and Aaron exchanged eye rolls to heaven as he began to brew up a potion.  We each took our glass and raised them up in Cheers.  Down went the delicious concoction.  Tasted like lemonade; the sourness cutting the sweet to something the blokes could stand.  We thanked him for our shots and and his tips for fun in the city and set back out for our hotel.

The rain had started again and increased as we continued on our way.  Aaron picked up our pace to a light jog.  I love, love to get caught in the rain!  I was laughing as we hurdled puddles and dodged people; stopping only at intersections.  Our clothes were drenched through and rain ran down the tips of our noses.

"I love this!"  I shouted to Aaron.  He kept pulling me along not appearing to share the same affection for the situation.  While stopped at another intersection I pulled Aaron under the canopy of a closed up souvenir shop and kissed him.

"You and your 'sweet' shot," he said through a smile.  I laughed again, grabbing his hand and running on as the herd began to move through the intersection again.

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