Find life experiences and swallow them up whole. By Lawrence K. Fish
“We are sharing a bed?” Not at all what I imagined for my retreat of writing and eating my way though New York City. The surprise on our faces was evident; we had been duped.
In the past, I’ve backpacked my way through several countries, sometimes shared space with twenty or more, and even the occasional bed. I am no prude, but those days seemed a lifetime away.
Viki and I were excited for months about our little escape to the big city. (For me my first not as a tourist or a work gig. A purely personal experience—alone in the city.) Introduced by a mutual friend, we both had different agenda’s, so it appeared the perfect solution to share expenses and rent an apartment for the stay.
The ancient tiny one bedroom apartment, in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, the six flights of stairs, the busy noisy buzz of the city as a backdrop, we were excited about it all. Viki, a teacher, looked forward to her long conference days of learning at Broadway for Teachers, and I anticipated filling mine with writing, coffee, Broadway shows and seeking out delicious food—sharing a bed, was not on the agenda.
Upon arrival, we discovered the bed situation and that the owner was staying with us and taking the only bedroom. While the bed was a king size futon, it still took up the whole living room and was divided by large pillows. The space was great for one, but three, and with two of us strangers, now sharing a bed, not so much.
Travel. Meet many people. Go down dead ends and explore dark alleys. Try everything. By Lawrence K. Fish
Meet new people. Unknown roads can lead to amazing experiences. (And, if I needed reminding, this statement from Mr. Fish was posted by the door through which I was looking at escaping.)
After several calls to book an upmarket hotel, to discover they too had no rooms with two beds, we decided to chalk up our little stay as an experience that we would both make the best of.
That night, we headed out to separate Broadway shows, but first I stumbled into Saju a French Bistro, located in the heart of midtown, on W 44th Street, near Broadway.
New York in the summer is hot; I felt the air-conditioning hit me as I walked into the pleasant candle-lit bistro. They take walk-ins, but I suggest making advance reservations. I love discovering a new restaurant. However, when I am pushed for time, I also use opentable.com, which enables the individual to secure a table to hard-to-reserve spots, and avoid the wait.)
I was in desperate need of food. After a long day of travelling and walking up six flights of stairs with a bag, the restaurant’s little table for one was beyond appealing. I started with still water, which is a signal to most waiters that I wasn’t a big spender. The French waiter looked smugly at me, as he quickly rushed away after setting my water down. I liked him despite his cool attitude, and settled in to the well-crafted menu and extensive wine list. The room is long, with a red brick interior and tiny tables for two; despite the air-conditioning the outside glass wall was open to the streets of New York. My spirits lifted when my glass of French pinot noir arrived. To begin, every guest receives mixed olives and bread. I ordered the Rigatoni a la saucisse de campagne, a pasta dish with rigatoni noodles, Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and a touch of grana. Food is comforting. In the most difficult of times, food makes the world right, almost like a warm hug. So, here I was, finally in New York, alone, and after the long day, I felt replete.
In the morning, Viki (my new friend after sharing a bed) and I took the subway to Chinatown for a one-hour Chinese massage, recommended by EMC colleague and friend, Mark Bergin. Another dark alley, but the experience was truly one of pure release. My muscles were molded, punched and beaten into submission, the same ones that climbed the six flights of stairs, and just about collapsed at the top, walked away feeling like jello. It is a gift to feel relaxed. This sense of wellness and peace led me to drop into a Buddhist temple in Chinatown, to light a candle and offer a blessing. I do not practice Buddhism; my prayer was simply a way to recognize this moment of calmness and ask for continuous peace for my family, my friends and me.
There is something to be said for exploration and trying everything.
I met Viki for a ginseng tea, both deciding, even after adding sugar, that it was good for us, but tasted bitter and uneventful. (…some are dead-ends). We followed it up with lunch at a Cantonese place called the “Amazing” restaurant (for the name alone we had to go inside.) The tables had several Chinese, including the staff watching the World Cup final on TV. We glanced at one older man, mouthed gaped, expressionless until his slender self contorted, cheering as a new goal was made. Viki and I shared lunch and parted ways, she for the American Museum of Natural History and I for Little Italy.
Mulberry Street, the heart of Little Italy, was closed off to manage the number of people celebrating the World Cup. The place was filled with smiling faces of avid admirers of ‘football’. I loved the energy of the action, but mostly the lack of line ups for the cold Italian gelato and creamed filled cananolis from the carts lining the cobblestone street. European at heart—I love everything about the rich simple sweet goodness of their food.
A full day of exploring led me to the Meatpacking District for dinner with a cousin and a nighttime walk through Chelsea. Another reminder of my twenties were the partying World Cup fans clumsily made their way home.
Shortly before dinner, Viki had called to advise that as luck would have it, her husband had arranged a condo, located beside Lincoln Center, for us. The move to a space with two beds, views towards Central park, and the open space to write was a perfect end, to a perfect day.
That night, I walked through Lincoln Center; against the night sky, the lights glittered with pure magic. I took in the moment and gasped. It’s the little moments that make life a blessing: embracing new experiences, new food and, best part, making new friends.
Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life. Lawrence K. Fish
If you have a restaurant or foodie biz suggestion email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information follow my blog at LadydinesAlot.com.