1. Six Flags with my little bro, watching a giraffe lick the car window, riding a roller coaster (no lines!) with my brother three times in a row.
2. Hiking to the top of Bear Mountain.
3. Saturday with A.. We walked around Greenwich St. at the Tribeca Family Festival. There were singers and dancers, stilt walkers, bubble-blowing stations, BMX bikers doing flips on ramps, booths selling cupcakes, crafts, and Kumon.
A chess club had brought a bunch of giant chess sets. The only unoccupied board was being set up by a young boy. I asked him if he was looking for someone to play with. He said he was. I asked him what color he wanted to be, white or black. He said he didn’t care, so I thought he must be pretty good. Afterwards, I regretted mercilessly trouncing him. I should have let him win. But in competitive games, it is difficult for me to fold or go easy.
We got dumplings at a food truck, and continued walking. We stopped by a bar for a quick rest. Then we went to Chelsea Market. There were so many unique stores of remarkable foodstuffs. My favorite was a store that sold different flavors of vinegar. We sampled all kinds of flavors: champagne, pomegranate, dark chocolate, and my favorite, blueberry. They tasted true to their labels. Each time I tried a sweet flavor, I forgot I was drinking vinegar and not juice, so the bitter aftertaste took me by surprise. So many images of Chelsea Market stick out in my mind… an old woman sharpening knives on a grindstone in the hallway, pasta shaped like genitalia, a stack of orange-red lobsters, a rack of board shorts with a toucan print in the flea market. There was a wine tasting at the wine store, so we walked in and sampled some whites. I remember the cashier at the wine store. “Can I see your IDs?” he asked. We showed him our IDs.
“Can we see your ID?” A. asked.
“No one asks me that question. I’m the one who buys the wine for the store,” the man replied with a smile. That took me by surprise, because he looked quite young, and I always imagined wine buyers were grayed, pretentious connoisseurs.
We bought a bit of food from different stores, and afterwards, we took the food to the High Line for lunch.
On the wooden bench, we laid out sushi and sashimi, pizza, chocolate-covered cranberries, and a bottle of sake. The sky was bright, the sun was warming. Conversation was light and mellow. Photographers took photos of us eating, some flagrantly, others at a distance. I thought this was peculiar, but I guess it was a good shot of the diverse peoples that share a bench. While I was eating some pizza, two policemen approached us. They asked for our drivers licenses, took them, then stood at a distance, and proceeded to scribble for what seemed like ten minutes. Then they returned with our licenses and gave us tickets for possessing liquor in a public park. A bunch of tourists snapped photos and inquired what we had done wrong. The bottle of sake was closed, we weren’t drinking, and we were the least bit belligerent. Well, I learned my lesson.
We walked some more, trying to catch a movie at the Tribeca Film Festival. But it was clear we wouldn’t make it in time. We talked about many things. But would stood out was A.’s recalling of those arbitrary yet beautiful times where you meet a complete stranger and a special connection forms. These special moments cannot be forced. “Imagine if you were friends with everyone walking down this street,” she said as we ambled down Bleeker St. Sometimes I feel this way when I am walking down a road or sitting in traffic. Each of those other people, each person walking or sitting in their car, has some hopes and dreams and interesting tales, but we are separated by something deceptive and petty and will never get to know each other.
A. notices so many details– the reflections in shattered glass and puddles, a store-front constructed from keys, a door covered in stickers, walls plastered with old posters, faded and ripped. She is unassuming, but speaks of so many things with enthusiasm and spark. What a lovely spirit.
We ran into a street artist whom A. knew, a middle-aged Japanese man wearing a beret, a richly textured grey sweater, and corduroy pants. His clothes were lived-in and nondescript, but he gave off the impression of one well-dressed because his outfit was suitable to his demeanor. We agreed to watch his stuff so he could go to the bathroom. We admired his watercolor vignettes of various street intersections in the city.
“How long does it take to paint one?” we asked when he returned.
“Three afternoons”, he answered.
A. spotted a sign for “Spy Store”, and wanted to check it out. We walked up to the second floor of the building, through a vacant, narrow hallway lit by the cold glow of incandescents, but could not find the store. A young man and woman from Boston and Philadelphia bumped into us. They wore backpacks. They too were looking for “Spy Store”. A. climbed a ladder and pushed back the door to the roof. Maybe, she joked, only people worthy of being spies could find the elusive “Spy Store”, and this was all a test. Perhaps the store was on the roof. The four of us climbed to the roof, and looked down at the intersection below. A. commented on the difference between being at road-level, walking among busy people, and taking a break on a roof, watching all those below.
A. recognized the building whose roof we were on, and that this building was shared by Fat Cat. So we went into the bar, got a couple beers, and waited for the live jazz to start. When the trio on guitar, string bass, and drums started playing, A. explained the usual jazz set: improv, followed by a more guided improv, and then a chance for each individual instrumentalist to be the main focus and showcase their talents. She pointed out how the musicians looked at each other during improv for synchronicity, then frequently glanced at their sheet music during guided improv, and how the guitarist sang inaudible “bops” to the tune of each strum. After the set, we walked some more in the crisp night air, past the exit to the Holland Tunnel, took the 1 uptown, and said our goodbyes.
Most Random Moment of April: riding a mechanical bull in a black pinstripe pantsuit