February 27, 2014
Walkabout #2
My friend, Gina the Gypsy meets me at the hotel after the conference.  She has 24 hours to show me her New York City.  Tomorrow afternoon she will turn me over to my other friend, Jen, the actress.  Both young women are from Duluth where I live now.  Gina has traveled about from one adventure to another.  She lived in Puerto Rico for a number of years, eventually ending up in New York.  Jen came out here to pursue her dream to sing and to perform on stage and in film.  Gina continues to embrace the world and have adventures.  Jen has found her way into a few movies and commercials and after only two years, has woven herself into quite a network of interesting people.  I am excited to have this short time to get to know them both better—and to see New York through their eyes.
Gina and I head out into a sunny, 52 degree Fahrenheit afternoon.   
We walk toward the New York Public Library, the bronze plaques embedded in the sidewalk leading us toward the palatial, marble building. 

I’ve already been there, so we pass it by and head toward the High Line.  A former elevated railway, it has been turned into a lovely walking path with gardens and art along the way.  Of course, other than the evergreen trees, the gardens are naked, the grasses brown, some things still covered in snow.  There are benches to sit upon and watch the world stroll by.  No one is in a hurry here.  I can imagine that in the summer there are musicians and other street performers here.  The views allow peeks between the buildings into the harbor beyond.

We come to the end of the line and after a sweep through the Chelsea Market for something to eat, we head for the subway; my first New York Subway ride.  Once on the train, it looks and feels much like being on the L in Chicago…or even the Tube in London.  The stations though are different.  Closer, tighter, darker.  I keep imagining that I’m in a movie.
We head to the 911 Memorial…
then the Staten Island Ferry…and then another train for home.  

We are in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan—yet, there are hardly any people, and even fewer folk after we leave the Ferry landing for home.  Near empty streets.  Empty parks.  Only a few people on the subway.  I relax.  I can take it in now—deeply.  But it is too much still—all the stories, all the history, all this energy come together in this place, building up over a few hundred years.

Gina cooks up an amazing vegetarian dinner.  I heap my plate.  Having grown up in New York, Gina’s partner John tells me stories.  They talk about their amazing food cooperative that was actually featured on The Daily Show (he shows me the clip).  We talk a bit of politics.  It is late when we all finally find our beds.  Gina and John rent out space in their home through the AirBnB site, but their guests are still out on the town.  I go to sleep with my meditation music and ideas and images whirling through my thoughts.
Next morning Gina and I head for the nearby park to walk her sweet dog, Boo.  It is quiet and we meet only a few people.  The sun is shining and the birds are having choir practice—preparing for the Spring Festival, no doubt.  After breakfast, when I mistakenly eat all the delicious guacamole, we head for the Brooklyn Bridge.  We finally find all the people—and they are mostly headed for Manhattan. 
As we cross the bridge, I am fascinated by the people, the buildings, the water winding through everything.  The ships look like toys down below us.  
 My heart is light…I want to spread my arms and fly, even with the 45 lb pack on my back! 

We slowly make our way to the Quintessence Restaurant…an organic, raw food, vegan restaurant Gina used to work at.  The menu looks delicious.  “My treat!” I say.  It’s 2:00.  There’s no way we will make it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by 2:30 where we are to meet Jen.  So Jen comes to meet us just as we are digging into our Pave De Chocolate-Raspberry dessert.  I introduce them and they then discover that Jen went to High School with Gina’s sister.  Small world indeed. 
Our hunger sated, and time running short, Gina bids us goodbye and Jen flags down a taxi to hurry us off to the Met Museum.  We will only have about 45 minutes…what can you possibly see at a two block square, multi-level museum in 45 minutes?  But Jen insists—and I realize that the experience might be more memorable than spending an entire afternoon!
I am rewarded!  There in the Impressionists Exhibit I find some of my favorites—Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir…and my very favorite Renoir painting is on display!  When I was pregnant with my second child, I had a borrowed Renoir print hanging next to my bed.   I said if my baby was a girl, I wanted to own that print.  She was, and I do.  And strangely, my older daughter was brunette, my second daughter a blonde.                  I love this painting! 
Jen has secured free seats at a comedy improv show for us—Face Off.  We head over on the train to the neighborhood, looking first for some dinner.  I find an organic grocer and order a smoothie in a bowl.  It is delicious.  For $12 I would hope so!  When we get to the show, it is in the basement of a Japanese restaurant famous for their sushi.  We eat sushi and drink mojitos and laugh until our cheeks hurt. 

What a lovely finish to my stay in New York!

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