Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tales of the Cities

Greetings from Virginia Beach, (and apologies to Armistead Maupin for a bit of brazen title-stealing). What fun it's been tonight, to turn my herd loose, to play with Cathy and Jay's herd, and to have some grown-up chat time.  I had forgotten that one of the marks of relaxed East-Coast friendship is the ability to sit and chat while absently scratching mosquito-bites.  Old school-friend, Cathy and I have been catching up on kids, family, and tales of my travels, over dinner, some wine, and the ritual dabbing-on of the benedryl gel. 

So, picking up the travelogue from the last entry:  After coffee and glorious music on Sunday, we explored NYC with our expert native guides and dear friends, Marc, Seth, and Sam: a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, lunch at a friendly Irish pub in lower Manhattan, complete with a hilarious Irish bartender who crowned 4-year-old Rhys "King of the Table" and asked his permission to bring his mama a beer with her lunch.  Then, we took a walk to Ground Zero and Saint Paul's church.  Thank Heaven for old friends who can read a "moment" and put an arm around my shoulder.  Even all these years later, it was un-nervingly sobering to stand in that place and think about what went on there, and what New Yorkers went through on 9/11, and the weeks and months that followed. 

We balanced the sobriety of Ground Zero with a subway trip uptown to Times Square, where we met the "Naked Cowboy" (not actually naked, nor a cowboy, but rather a pale-skinned, ordinary-ish fellow in a cowboy hat, boots, white briefs, and a pencilled-on mustache, singing "Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Naked Cowboys..."  Good advice, I think, considering how that scenario has turned out for him...New Yorkers can be so helpful, can't they?).  Calvin did a bit of mugging and babbling for two folks with TV cameras who claimed to be working for a Dutch TV station, and Rhys had a meltdown over wanting a large, overpriced souvenir of the Statue of Liberty.   Then it was back to Brooklyn for dinner and famous cheesecake from Junior's Restaurant.

We left our NYC pals, Marc, Seth, and Sam, on Monday morning, with promises of a reunion soon, and spent the next 45 minutes trying to find our way out of Brooklyn without a map, while our newly-installed GPS had a session of electronic senility.  Yes, I could have asked for directions, but where's the adventure in that?  Besides, it was our pathetically obvious lost-ness that probably bought me sympathy a few minutes later, with the NYC Police Officer who used her loudspeaker to stop me from making an illegal U-turn on Flatbush Avenue AND then ran a traffic block so that I could complete the illegal U-turn and pull over.  The Jedi mind-trick of seizing control of a traffic-stop with, "Ok, so HOW do I find I-278 from here?", complete with a flustered flourishing of the atlas, and some waving of the sunglasses, as if the officer had really pulled us over to give us directions, rather than a ticket, actually worked.  She tried to scold me about what kind of a car-seat my youngest child was using, and told me about the "really, really big sign up there" regarding the illegality of U-turns at that particular intersection, but seemed to lose her ticket-writing resolve, and simply gave me directions to I-278.  I love those helpful New Yorkers!

With our GPS still demonstrating only a tentative grasp of actual geography, my kids and I found our way, via baroque curlicue loops through Baltimore's Camden Yard neighborhood, and then back to the interstate, to the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, on Monday afternoon, followed by more street-minuets all the way back to the Baltimore home of Martha and Bill, our hosts for Monday night.  For today's journey back into DC, to see the National Air and Space Museum, we relied on a combination of Martha's clear directions and a tolerant glance at our struggling GPS from time to time.  Then, it was on to our hosts here in Virginia Beach.  This trip was only a "sample" of DC, so that we can plan a more leisurely trip to explore all of the charms of our nation's capitol.

Tomorrow, perhaps we can sneak in a little beach time before setting off for Spartanburg, SC, and yet another old-friends-too-long-separated reunion, with Mildred and John and their six (!) beautiful kids.  Yes, this is a fascinating tour through the varied sights of our country, but it's the people who are making the greatest impression on me.

No comments:

Post a Comment