Bugging the elders

To save money, I’ve been staying with an older woman who lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.  As I mentioned before, she’s 82 and delightful.  And we’ve spent hours talking.  Our topics range from her time in the Air Force, dating life (hers and mine), racism in the South, racism in the North, the children we both love (but never birthed), and memories of childhood.

Her honesty is refreshing.  And I’m happy that she likes me.  I was even shown a picture of her single nephew who’s about my age, with the slightest hints of our future together (though she doubts he’ll ever marry).

But there’s just this one thing that came up recently: Continue reading

Gone Back to the States

Although I don’t regret moving by any means, I often say that Amsterdam would be 100x better if I could transplant all of my favorite people there.  Sadly, no one seems willing to support me on this mission.  At least not yet.  But one good thing about leaving a lot of people you love behind is having the opportunity to appreciate them even more when visiting.  My time in the States is quite short, with only two weeks split between nyc and chicago.  So on this visit, I have had to soak up as much love as I can as quickly as possible.  And not knowing when I will see many of them again makes this visit that much more critical.

This July visit was planned before my one-way ticket to Amsterdam was even purchased.  As soon as my dear friend knew the date of her wedding, I knew my return to the States would be planned around it.  Shortly after that, I found out my sister was expecting her third child, who would be born in March.  Two visits wouldn’t have been possible.  So the priorities of this July visit were baby, wedding, and friends.  And since my Mom is in Chicago, it only made sense to tack on an extra leg to the midwest. 

I arrived at JFK on Tuesday evening and was immediately greeted by a funky wave of humidity.  And having left behind a 70-something degree situation in Amsterdam, this was less than pleasant.  Then after about a 25 minute wait, I was on the A train headed for Manhattan.  As if no time away from the city had passed, the familiar smells of day-old piss and body odor made me feel right at home.  Five semi-talented boys attempted to entertain the car for a couple of stops by jumping around and dancing, a loud family of four shared with all of us the happenings of their day, and a stinky lady passed through only briefly, but left behind her odor for many stops to come.  I already missed the independence and odorlessness of my bike rides.

The reunions and couch surfing began immediately.  Late-night chats, lunches, dinners, drinks, desserts.  And somehow, I’ve managed to see most people I have on a priority list.  My niece made a special trip into the city from jersey to meet me, wearing the cutest little outfit and accompanied by my sister. We had most of a day together while my sister worked.  The following day my friend’s wedding was perfectly gorgeous and full of love, giving me my fill of good friends, tasty food, alcohol, and dancing (my favorite combination of things, by the way).  And it’s been nonstop since then.

The whirlwind tour will continue with some more family time before I head out to Chicago in a couple of days.  In the meantime, I’m sitting in union square park, waiting for my next date.  Almost every bench is filled, as the lawn is “temporarily closed.” An insane number of temperamental drunk people apparently use the area as a meeting spot at this time of day.  And the noise of the traffic is only slightly shielded by the fighting drunks and a little girl crying. Once I see all the people I love, I’m ready to get back to the parks and (my) lazy days in Amsterdam.

Before I Go, Let’s Party…

I’ve been asked a number of times what I’ll miss most about living in New York. I always answer, “the people,” meaning my friends and family. Genuinely good friends aren’t easy to come by. And I’ve met plenty of good people in every city I’ve lived in. But something special has happened since I’ve lived here, giving me the opportunity to meet and fall in love with so many people, all of whom I hope will remain life-long friends.

In celebration of these friendships, as well as, of course, my upcoming move, I decided to party hard during my last few weeks in NYC. Not too much packing or Rosetta Stone studying has been done during this time. But I’ve certainly been having a great time.

A few highlights:

My going away party was on December 30th, the day before New Year’s eve and just days after the snowstorm that mysteriously paralyzed NYC. So I worried that no one would be able to come to Brooklyn to celebrate my upcoming departure. Fortunately I was wrong. Unfortunately I was too drunk to remember if I thanked everyone for coming.

The evening started with a pretty light dinner and a pretty strong mojito. So I was already feeling free before I even arrived at the party venue. And speaking of the venue, it was perfect: a private little movie theater with a bar, and seats that were formerly bucket seats from old cars. We were able to drink what we wanted, watch the little movie I created about my family history research, and then dance to the playlist I put together for the occasion. It was delightful. I was both the drunkest and happiest person at the party. Well, until I realized I had to say goodbye to people…then I started to cry. But it was a happy cry. Oh, and then when I got sick on the way home. But it was a happy puke, trust me.

The following night was New Year’s Eve. Two friends had come up from DC to stay with me and help me celebrate through the weekend. And we met up with some more friends at the party, where I danced more and drank a little less than I had the night before. We ended the night around 5am, at which time on that particular holiday you will find vomit in every car of the train on your way home. The sad thing was that on our train, all of us were too drunk and tired to either notice or move.

Exactly a week later was my last day working. Although I didn’t know what was planned, I knew my friends/coworkers would plan something funny and/or fun for my send-off. And to be honest, since the ante has been upped each time a person leaves, I figured I might be the first one in awhile to get a lollipop and a pat on the back. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The office has two floors. So around 5pm on the big and final day, I noticed all of the staff heading upstairs. They were discreet. But it was obvious. Then I could hear things being said on the microphone, including my name one or two times. Around the same time, I was met in my office by the CEO holding a blindfold (trust me, not a typical Friday). I was blindfolded and led upstairs, all the while hearing my friend on the mic welcoming me to the party. With the blindfold off, I was looking at a sea of purple, with everyone seated as an audience and wearing at least one purple item. There was a large purple seat reserved in the middle, along with a purple fedora, a purple boa, and an open bottle of champagne with a long straw. My fantasy.

I turned around to see eight of the most wonderful people dressed to the nines, looking remarkably similar to Prince and the Revolution. That alone would have been enough. But it was followed by a scripted and carefully choreographed Prince medley, telling the story of my time there. If I hadn’t been having such a good time dancing and laughing, I would have been crying because it was all so lovely. The evening continued with more drinking and more dancing. But the performance was the highlight.

And now, with less than a week left, I don’t expect my remaining days to include much partying. Rather, I need to make up for lost time on the whole packing project. And perhaps I’ll be struggling with the new, nagging feeling that I’m actually going to miss New York. Who would have thought?