On our fourth morning in New York City, we rose early (for us) and took a Lyft to the closest car rental that had any kind of car at all within the city, which Richard had reserved days before with Avis. The office was about a mile from our hotel near Times Square, and across the street from Madison Square Garden, where Billy Joel’s large entourage of busses and trucks was blocking access to just about everything, in preparation for his performance. So, after being stuck there for perhaps a half hour, we were finally on our way out of the city heading north to Brewster, where we were meeting two dear friends for lunch. One lives there, and the other was driving all the way from Albany, so we were a bit on edge that we would keep him waiting; he had to get back to pick up his grandchildren from school by 3:30! The drive of sixty to ninety minutes north was winding, pretty, and beset with a lot of construction. These days, I’m always glad to see that people have plenty of work, but it did slow us down some.
We met Lori at her home and tested ourselves for Covid, then drove over to Kelly’s Corner pub, where we met Steve, who also tested. We spent a couple of hours catching up and discussing politics over a good old American lunch. Steve alerted us that a preponderance of young progressives such as his adult children, who are in academia, are against full freedom of speech! I had not heard this before, and found it a bit alarming, as we four “old fogies” in our 60’s and 70’s all found concerning. This is because of hate speech primarily, I believe, and possibly because of the rash of misinformation on the internet, but… well, guess I will always be a liberal moderate. In any case, it was sweet and gratifying to hang out with these close friends whom we rarely get to see.
On our way back to the hotel in the late afternoon, we made a brief but lovely stop at The Cloisters, in the northern part of the city, a museum built a hundred years ago to look like an abbey, at the top of a hill. Normally, you park at the bottom and walk up a cobblestone drive, but the security staff kindly let us drive up and park near a lower entrance. We set up my scooter and a docent took me through a maze of walkways to (first, a restroom!) a tiny elevator. Even though we had little time to thoroughly explore, the staff was very kind in accommodating us. I had thought they might say, “We’re sorry, you really are too late,” but in fact the docent said, “Of course… and I hope you’ll be able to come back again when you have more time.” The museum is full of medieval artifacts which were brought here from Europe by a wealthy patron, and has a courtyard full of flowers and herbs in the center, typical of an abbey. The garden used to be accessible to walk through, but it is now glassed off from the public… the irresponsible public, apparently. I missed looking at the plants close up.
Thursday evening, we had asked an aloof young clerkess at the Hyatt for the price of parking at the hotel, and, having asked the price at the garage across the street, learned we could save $40 over two nights by parking there instead of at the hotel. So, we left the car across the street Friday night. (To be clear, Ms. Snooty was the only one of the staff with this sort of personality; all others were friendly and accommodating; I believe she may have been the same one who chastised me over the phone for flying into Newark!) That evening, being a bit tuckered out from our adventure, we decided to get take-out. We ordered from a Thai place near Times Square called Obao which was nothing short of excellent, especially for take-out. Then we watched a movie in our room, and I can’t for the life of me remember what it was! Something unimpressive, clearly, but it was relaxing to just hang out in the room for an evening.
Saturday morning after another unmemorable Hyatt breakfast, we set off in the car for New Jersey, where two of Richard’s nieces and their three children live. It was a long, flat, partly industrial, and eventually tree-lined and suburban drive to Jackson. Sarah had recently bought a nice condominium, so everyone met up there for a sumptuous lunch of sushi and fruit, Sheva and her son Jake having driven over from Howell. Sarah’s daughters, Rebecca and Esther, live with her. We all tested so we were able to hug each other and not wear masks. Part of our long chat that afternoon was regarding where the kids will all go to college (Rebecca to Rutgers, where she will study chemical engineering) and talk of proms, dresses, excitement and how we can hardly believe they are all this old.
All present were dismayed about the invasion of Ukraine, and we tossed around our viewpoints of what we hoped might happen, none of which were in any way favorable to Vladimir Putin. I am so encouraged by the intelligence and compassion of today’s young people and their awareness of the state of the world and society. They hope for the best and condemn bigotry, heartlessness, and harm to our planet. It is a wonder to me when they don’t despair, given what they are inheriting.
On the way home, a quick stop at a Starbucks in lieu of my usual late afternoon lie-down. Back at the hotel, another late and tasty small plates dinner at Bar 54 at the top of the hotel. This time, we sat at the actual bar, having begged for a seat in the popular venue. The friendly and entertaining bartender was remarkable; he kept banter going with all the patrons (no matter how tipsy and loud they got) and was clearly an expert at a large variety of fancy and sophisticated beverages. He also had a bit of a limp or a back problem, the sort of thing I, as a person with a disability, always notice, so I was impressed that he could be on his feet for hours. We ended our last visit there by sharing a treat, an expensive single malt scotch, a very old Macallan which was highly rated, smooth and sherry-casked. It made me a little loopy since our friend the barkeep gave a generous pour, which we could barely finish. But we did, troopers that we are!
Next: Our last full day