Saturday, August 31, 2019

A Hot Date in New York

 After too many hours to count, especially with the time changes between Spain and Copenhagen, I dragged at the JFK Airport Friday night.  Customs.  Crowds. Lines of people surrounding the passport machines. A long wait at the baggage carousel. My muddled head and oh, so tired body.  I was the lucky recipient of a dear friend, who is not a big city girl, who drove four hours from Vermont to pick me up.  I pulled my three (yes, 3) bags to the curb and melted into the massive sea of travelers and mountains of luggage.  Elizabeth arrived through unfamiliar roads and then accidentally followed the taxi lanes, but the woman wasn’t daunted.  Seeing her familiar face after watching thousands of taxis drive by and honk their horns continually, gave me a smile that matched hers and those smiles lingered.

She’d already scouted out the JFK Inn for me and we were in our hotel room by 9:30 pm.  My feet, ankles and legs were very swollen and since she is a massage therapist.  Since she is a great friend, she knew she could bark orders at me.  When I laid down, she gave me a gentle, but thorough foot massage.  Ah...wonderful.  My jet lag began to set in, so sleep was next.

This morning, the woman had a serious plan.  We were going to Brooklyn, near the water and parks, the pier and lunch.  And we had six hours to accomplish the itinerary.  She, again, jumped into the (absolutely) crazy New York traffic with her GPS talking to us from the apparatus attached inside her windshield (I helped.). She slipped in and out of traffic, took all the right turns and then we were on Atlantic Avenue, which leads straight down to the Atlantic Ocean.  

There is a beautiful walkway along the bay and we could hear the water lapping against the pier and the pilings topped with hungry seagulls. Helicopters swooped over the watery area filled with tourists.  The breeze gently blew in our hair and the day turned from great to better.  We saw a children’s water-play park with large rocks, greenery and little geysers of water.  Children splashed in the area alongside many parents who used the excuse to be kids again.  Tennis courts were built right up to the edge of the pier.  Sailboats and yachts swayed in the water with the Manhattan skyline behind them.  It was magical.

When our walkway meandered past art posters, it led to huge rocks that lined the area between our path and the water.  When I saw a yellow sign saying, don’t stand on the rocks (why, I wondered?)... And then, she hopped up just as a woman offered to take a photo of us together.  And she managed to fit the Statue of Liberty between us in the background. 
We had our heart set on a rooftop restaurant, so we kept walking.  Dogs. Children.  Couples holding hands. I couldn’t help but take a photo of a young, Jewish man who walked slowly toward us.  Women and men running for exercise and we kept going.  When we found the restaurant, we took an express elevator to the eleventh floor and two things left an impression.  Well, also the skyline of the City and the Brooklyn Bridge, but mainly the prices on the menu...evidently it costs a premium to view the area from their tall patio.  The other surprise was a young woman strutting around the area wearing black-artsy, panty hose over what appeared to be a g-string.  Seeing women in Spain on the beach with bathing suits baring all seem so much more normal to me now.   I did not take a photo of the woman in black.

And the women's bathroom wasn't that exactly.  When I went down the stairs as we'd been instructed, I saw a restroom but didn't know if it was the men's or women's.  As it turned out, I saw a woman come out the door and I headed toward it.  But, she was quickly followed by a man just a couple steps behind her.  What??  I could see into the restroom and there were men AND women inside.  Oh, dear.  I only had one option, so I stepped inside.  I felt uncomfortable, but the doors were floor to ceiling, so I joined them.  A different world.
We found an electric cover that we could barely read NYC, but it was the best we could do for a foot photo.

We walked back towards Atlantic Avenue to a restaurant called Fornino’s, where Elizabeth treated me to lunch. The watermelon, feta cheese, red onion slices tossed with chopped mint leaves in a salad was delicious.  It was so good to catch up with each other again.  We've been friends since 1999.
She assured me that my swollen ankles and feet needed hydrating and walking, so headed up Atlantic Avenue, choosing shaded side streets.  I love all the brownstones, old buildings with arched windows, leaded glass and the ambience of New York and the Brooklyn neighborhood.  We were watching our clocks by then.  I certainly didn't want to miss my plane.  We were hot, so a cool drink was on our minds when we spied a small French café called Chez Moi.  A Frenchman invited us in.  We sat at the bar and the bartender immediately poured each of us a glass of water.  I wasn’t sure if we looked parched or if it was his usual offer until I saw him pour a glass for the man a few seats from us.  Elizabeth was flirty and the bantering was fun.  The man said he’d been bartending for quite some time.  I told him I’d just returned from Spain.  I also said that in Arizona, I’d asked several bartenders to make my favorite drink called tinto de verano.  I gave him the basic ingredients and he took the challenge.  Red wine and lemon juice (two to one) and simple syrup.  He mixed the drink with ice before shaking it frothy.  
I laughed at his expectant face as he pushed it toward me.
“All it needs is a lemon slice.”  
His left hand whipped up with a lemon slice already in his hand before I could finish the word, slice.
IT WAS PERFECT.  At last!  When I asked if I could take his photo, he positioned another slice of lemon for the picture and gave me a thumbs up.  We laughed when he pulled it out again, saying, “Now I want my lemon back.”  Here’s  a big shout out to Axel Iron, Perfect Bartender.  

Elizabeth is back home in Vermont and as I type this blog post, I am on the plane among the clouds with one more hour to go before I land in Phoenix.  
Goodbye Spain.  
Goodbye New York.  
Hello home again.

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