Brunch: Part 1

“I’m not going to write today! Or maybe ever again”, she blurted at me as if she’d been waiting for just the right moment to unleash this sweeping declaration on the world.

“Uh huh”, was my stunted reply. My head was killing me and I had an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I needed eggs.

We took several steps in silence before, “In fact, I’m not even going to speak unless I have something very important to say!”

“Okay.” I rolled my eyes a little behind my Ray Bans. I was glad the sun was shining, I might be able to get away with leaving them on all day. We sauntered along Broadway towards the downtown 1 train station at 79th Street. We made it another block before she added, “you know, no one is listening anyway, and don’t get me started on how people don’t read. I mean really, what’s the point?”

“Maybe you should become a photographer, that’s like a thousand words a shot – seems much more efficient” I offered, using the most words I had strung together so far on this lovely Sunday. It took a lot of effort.

“Now you’re just making fun of me.” Her tone was more playful than hurt.

“No, I mean it. No one reads, right? You don’t even need to buy a camera. There’s an iPhone in your bag right now.”

“Very funny.”

As we approached the entrance to the train I got out my Metrocard and descended the steps with Rachel close on my heels. I could feel the air rising up from the tunnels beneath. That hot, dank blast of subway air that tells you you are about to miss your train. If I had been alone, I would have made it. I am excellent at not missing the train, even in the old days when the city ran at a quicker pace. Now it’s like I’m in the Matrix dodging the slow moving, still plugged-in members of the construct in some sort of quick-motion camera effect when I navigate the streets of Manhattan. Underground is no different. Even as hungover as I am I feel like flying down those stairs and weaving in and out of the Sunday tourists coming up to wander around the now mall-like Upper West Side. Today I have Rachel in tow though. She’s not slow exactly, but urgency is not in her vocabulary. Not that we’re in a rush to get downtown, but I always operate at a near run when attempting to get from point A to point B in this city. It’s an attitude from a bygone era.

We make it to the turnstile just as the doors are opening on the southbound 1. Rachel mutters something about her “giant fucking purse” as she rifles through it in search of her Metrocard. I swipe mine and swiftly hand it back to her as I pass through the turnstile. I make it to the train door in time to slip through, but that would mean leaving Rachel on the platform, so I wait.

“They only serve brunch until three”, I shout to her over the rising noise of the departing train. “Unlimited mimosas are why God invented Sunday!” My headache creeps back up on me now that the excitement has receded a bit.

“Please. There’ll be another one in a minute.” I know she’s right, so I don’t argue. We’ll be at the Christopher St. station maybe six minutes later than if we had made the first train. Rachel could choose to be relaxed wherever she was. I wanted to get to the place where the relaxing would be practiced.

Rachel’s latest endeavor is writing. Last year she was an event planner. She helped one of her sorority sisters plan her wedding in a barn upstate, so it was a natural progression, obviously. After the event she was asked to write a piece about the experience for a destination wedding magazine. The kind with more ads than articles and a vendor directory in the back. She was published though, so now she’s a writer. She’s currently working on her own version of 50 Shades of Grey. I’m certain the end goal is a paycheck, but you have to admire her spirit.

“What are you going to order”? Rachel’s superfluous speech embargo has clearly been lifted.

“Brunch”. I chuckled a little to myself. She knows as well as I do, I’m on the breakfast side of brunch and the savory side of breakfast.

“Hey, what the fuck is wrong with you today?”

“Nothing.” Which was mostly true. At least, I couldn’t think of anything else worth saying aloud. It was Sunday, I was starving, my head was pounding and I was looking forward to hair of the dog. I was actively trying to remember the night before. I couldn’t help but think I’d played the whole thing wrong, but since I was making up the rules as I went, there was no one there to tell me one way or the other.

“Well, snap out of it.” Easy for her to say, she went home early.

A train was approaching. I could see its headlights a few yards down the track and I felt that familiar change in the underground air. It had rained yesterday, so there was still that musty wet subway smell in the tunnels and standing water on the tracks. I stared down at the puddles as the rats scurried around looking for a quick snack before ultimately disappearing under the train.

Rachel was right. I was doing that thing I do. I get in a funk over something I can’t change or couldn’t control in the first place and I can’t pull out of it. Combine that with the guilt of having cocktailed myself into oblivion the night before and you’ve got a recipe for bitch on toast. Mimosas should help. There weren’t a lot of great brunch deals left on this island, but luckily my downtown friend Steph had hipped me to a spot on Bleecker with a reasonably priced menu and free flowing alcohol. Just what I needed this Sunday.

The train pulled into the station and we hopped on. The air conditioned car was a welcome relief from the humidity of the damp station. It was only June, but the forecast called for 91 degrees by later that afternoon. On Friday, it had been in the low 70s. Fucking climate change. “You know”, Rachel began “whatever’s bothering you is probably all in your head.” She’s so well adjusted.

“It always is.” Really, there’s always something going on in there to psych me out.

“So, what are you going to order”?

“Something from the menu, most likely.” God! Why am I such an asshole today?


Time Machine Tuesday

This week I was going through some of my old journals and blog posts trying to organize my work and my thoughts, and I came across this. It’s the opening of a post from The Wedding Singer’s Guide to Life back in March of ’09. It made me laugh.

Survivor, Wedding Reception: The Courtesy Basket

This week, a brief musing on one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. The wedding restroom courtesy basket. It’s far better than an actual restroom attendant, which always sort of freaks me out. I feel like I need to make a point of bringing a dollar with me to the ladies room every time, and how about the ones that don’t really do anything but sit there? I digress. The courtesy basket is like your favorite grandma’s giant purse that always has exactly what you need.

Gum? Why yes. What goes better with an open bar than Trident?

Bobby pin? Sure thing. I thought I felt a hair out of place.

Tylenol? You betcha. Why not get started beating that hangover early?

I think my favorite courtesy basket item is the Tums or Rolaids they always put in there. Does this say more about the food or about our ability to control ourselves in an all-you-can-eat cocktail hour buffet situation? I’ve never needed antacid at an event myself, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

On the subject of courtesy baskets, I’m all pro. Really, I can’t think of a single con. I mean seriously, free tampons? Especially if the venue you’ve chosen provides one for you. If they don’t, definitely put one together. It’s a good job to give one of your bridesmaids, maybe the one that just missed out on the coveted maid-of-honor position. It makes your guests feel welcome and that you care about their needs during the course of your wedding. It’s a long day for everyone, and chances are at around 9:00pm or so, someone’s going to need some hand lotion or hairspray. I once saw a woman beat a wicked case of static cling at a Christmas party with just a bit of Jergen’s on the stockings – it was amazing.


Slow Ride

For just a few minutes I was alone in my car, which is one of the few places I ever get to be alone. Maybe I should’ve turned on the radio, but I didn’t. I just drove. I didn’t deviate from the path, I drove towards the gate. Towards the house. I realized I was driving rather slowly.

Slower than the limit.

Slower than the traffic.

Slower than I would normally drive.

I was thinking. Maybe I was subconsciously trying to extend that moment into something more than what it was. The end of an errand. The ten minutes I had to be alone before we were all together again. It was gloriously peaceful, regardless of the traffic.

I noticed the lightness had returned to my being, if only for a few minutes.

As I approached the gate, Gary, the youngest and most “with it” of the guards ushered me through without ceremony. I was disappointed when he didn’t extend my journey by even the amount of time it would have taken to show him my pass. He knows me now, I am accepted.

I smiled my most polite and girly smile. I thanked him in my most pleasant and high pitched voice (the one I reserve for elders, teachers or police officers) and I drove on through. I was delighted to adhere to the 19 mile-per-hour speed limit. I even gave them back four mph and drove 15.

Anything to extend the moment.

I waved at everyone on the street as I drove by, the folks walking their tiny dogs, the people puttering by on golf carts and the cigar smokers who had been relegated to their driveways by their non-cigar-smoking wives.

Inevitably, I arrived back at the house. The garage door was fixed.

They were standing there talking, and I missed him again.

The Tree Becomes a Tree

My neighbors and I have the same tree. Not to say that we share one tree, but we have both planted (or someone did) the same type of tree. I planted mine myself, four years ago. The neighbors’ tree was planted by the previous inhabitant of their home. Our houses are separated by a third neighbor whose yard is too small for trees, so I can see the tree from my window. It exists in the same view shed as my own. They both get plenty of sun.

I don’t remember the proper name for these trees, I only remember that I found mine in the “flowering” section of the garden department at Home Depot. It was a tiny stick of a thing with about four branches on it that each contained a sprinkling of pretty pink blooms. My husband and I purchased it alongside a dogwood that suffered a terrible demise later that summer while we were away at the beach. On the day we bought these starter trees they both fit in the back of our SUV.

Today the surviving tree has grown into something that is actually quite tree-like. It’s life cycle each year is a reminder of where we are and where we are going. Still, I can’t help but look across the yards of our three Victorians to the tree on the corner, the tree that lives in the new neighbors’ yard. It flowers every spring, without fail, regardless of the weather. Some years the the tree’s flowers are fuller, pinker. Some years they are spaced out between small budding leaves that refuse to recognize that they are first meant to be flowers. But my tree, my tree has barely flowered in the past two seasons. It is less established, yes, but it’s almost as if it has found a way to skip the flowering portion of it’s growth. Like it has discovered a short cut to maturity that the rest of us are not privy to.

I stare across to the yard two doors down and see the pink flowers of my neighbors’ tree peeking up over their fence full and proud every day. I think about the woman who planted that tree, my dear friend who moved to be closer to work and then decided she missed our little town and returned. She doesn’t have that tree anymore. I am jealous of the new neighbors. Their tree makes lovely pink buds and flowers and they didn’t have to do a thing. My tree keeps trying to jump ahead to be a leafy green tree. I just want it to pause and flower for me. I only planted it for the color. The brief moment of color, of vibrance, that comes right before the tree becomes a tree.