Tuesday, August 21, 2012

These little town blues

This past weekend included 15 eating and drinking establishments, at least seven different kinds of beer, a lot of Mexican food of varying degrees of authenticity, and that piece of New York Pizza.  It also included a two month-old, old friends, a set of parental units, paint cans, a flee market, 16 miles in Central Park, and mid-town lunch specials. The only place something like that could take place in what amounted to three-and-half day vacation is in the best city in the world: New York City.

Some background:
  1. The wife and I have not been on a non-wedding/non-visiting hometown vacation since our honeymoon.  This is not to say that these other trips weren't fun or we couldn't relax during them, but there is something to be said about this luxury of a "real" vacation.
  2. San Francisco is a nice town.  There is good food and the people are nice, but it is not a city and it is very slow. Stuff closes too early, it isn't easy to get around, and there are no good bagels. This isn't to say we don't like it here, but we should be honest, it pales in comparison to New York.  Anyone who says otherwise either has not lived in New York or couldn't cut it in New York.
  3. Going on vacation to your old home is strange. But at least you don't have to pretend you are getting the inside scoop on the local spots by asking the bellmen where they eat. Right, because those guys aren't told where to tell you to go by the same people providing information (and tips) to the concierge.
Now that I got that out of the way, here is what went down.

My lovely wife and I took the red-eye from SFO to JFK on Thursday night. The travel gods smiled upon us and provided the two of us an empty middle seat for the interminable trip.  We both were able to get some good sleep prior to landing early, and quickly getting a cab.

We got to our apartment, which was being primed for future renovation this weekend.  This was both nice and strange.  We had lived in this space for nearly six years, which coincided directly with our entire relationship.  We had put our lives into this space and now it was literally white washed. In the end, the wife noted that this made it a bit easier to deal with being in our old space...it wasn't really just our space anymore. Anyway, enough of the philosophical stuff, on to the eating.

We took a nap and got moving when my dad showed up to start the supervision of the painting that was taking place over the next few days.  I had to do some work so Abby went to get bagels at H&H Midtown East.  Honestly, I love these bagels and will defend their honor at all cost. Hyperbole about food will take place throughout this post. You have been warned.  After some food and I finished work, we were off to put our final touches on a baby present.

On the way home we picked up Lobster Rolls from Luke's Lobster for the two of us, my dad, and the lady doing the painting. They were good.  Thanks to Twitter, I was shamed into going to services that night so it was cool that we had lobster.

Trouble with God, not by Moby
Later in the afternoon, after a quick hello to my mom, we went over to Shabbat Unplugged, because there is nothing on Twitter that isn't true. First we had a quick snack at our local taco joint, because those are hard to come by in San Francisco (?) and hung out with our buddy Scott.  We waited out a major rain storm and headed over to say hi to Rabbi Strom, get some services in before meeting Sarah and Steve, our Upper East Side partners in crime. Needless to say we went to Maz, because that is where we always go, and then played Buck Hunter, because that is what we do.

Then it was late. And we went to bed.

Saturday I ran 16 glorious miles in my park.  I wrote a short ode to my park on my Daily Mile account which I will crib for this somehow already boring blog post:
Dear Central Park,
Oh I have missed you. Two and change laps around your outer loop with friends was just so nice. You even arranged for some heavy rain for the first 6 miles and cool breezes for the last 10. While a brief fling with my old running flame, it was well worth it. Nay it was the best 2 hours and 27 mins and 20 seconds I have had running in a long time. The non-water proof BodyGlide made the aftermath less than pleasant but oh Central Park, that isn't your fault. Until next time I will have to cheat on you with the Presidio and Golden Gate Park...but know you were my first.
It was really great to be back and run with both Steves and get in some training mileage.  We also saw Buzunesh Deba FLY by doing some easy miles after the rain passed. So that was cool.

After a quick stretch and bite, we got our passports out and went to Brooklyn to see Jay and Rachel, but more importantly to see their extremely cute two month-old baby girl Ruthie.  

Nice work Jay and Rachel, you made a very cute kid.

Because you have to eat, we walked over to the DeKalb Market for pretty impeccable food. This locavore pop-up created out of the materials of globalized trade -- the uniform shipping container -- utilizes an empty lot in Downtown Brooklyn to delight consumers masquerading as enlightened counter-culturalists.  Each container is filled with food or drink from some local establishment influenced by some foreign land. We had marinated beef on a stick that was blinding fantastic, cold beer that was perfect for the warm day, a few sandwiches, including the oxymoronic Challah and Pork Chop sandwich with caramelized onions and apples, and finished off the trip with a refreshing-yet-creamy sorbet.  We then walked on to play in the park with the baby while surreptitiously enjoying a few cold beers.


All of us hung out and then went for dinner at a tragically Brooklyn Mexican joint where a new waiter couldn't find his ass with both hands.  I would have felt badly for him but he didn't offer us a round of drinks or even get help from his manager.  It was as if it was our fault that he screwed up two orders and forget to place the entire order with the kitchen in the first place.  However, the food was really good. I suppose what isn't to like about overly cheesey food after an afternoon of beer and babies?

But why stop there. It was only 10pm.  So we hopped in the only cab in the area, jetted over the Brooklyn Bridge under a crystal clear sky and made it over to the Bierhaus on Third Ave.  I say we went over a bridge so we could fit in with a vast majority of the the people at the bar. We were meeting up with Sarah and Steve for large beers but the hilarity of drinking a das boot of beer was over powered by DJ Tanner (no, not kidding) BLASTING music and the dance-like gyrations of people from Hoboken.
This evening was hilarious and was capped off by an under-aged girl befriending Sarah and a shot-ski. I suppose you just had to be there.

Sunday started a bit later with Brunch at Panorama Cafe with Miriam and Chris.  It was great to catch up and strange not to partake in the all you can drink special.  However, this meal was surprisingly good without the liquid favor enhancer.  We crossed town to meet up with my parents for another meal, because that is what we do, and then walked around the Flee Market. Shockingly, there was nothing but junk.  We walked some more and then got some tea and a little bite because again, that is what we do, at Alice's Tea Cup.  It was in a word: Lovely.

After we said good-bye to my 'rents, we crossed back over to the East Side, had a little rest from all the eating and then got a few beverages with Chelsea who is like super cool. We shot the breeze and made extremely inappropriate jokes for many hours at Johnny Foxes, a local watering whole. We then got a piece of pizza and my trip was complete.

Monday included a brief 5 mile run on the East River and a fantastic mid-town lunch of sushi specials with my old work chums from the URJ.  We had to do laundry and clean up, and then get on the air train back to JFK.

Luck would have it we again got a middle seat to ourselves. And thus our trip was over.

A few words of conclusion, if you made it this far.  I love New York City and I will always love New York City.  However, believe it or not, I was happy to come back to San Francisco.  My lovely wife holds locations dear and has always been someone to attach significant meaning to places in a way I never understood.  I am usually ready to move on and forget, or at least leave it in the past.  But this trip was the first time I realized that New York was the first place I loved like a school boy with a crush and like an adult with a mature understanding of its flaws.

That said, I live in San Francisco now.  We are going to build up a cadre of memories and events and friends, much in the way we did in New York.  The city itself might not make the evening, but we will.  Our friends are still our friends.  Our city is still our city, even from a far.  And while I will miss it, New York will always be there for a visit.  And who knows, we may find our way back to the city that never sleeps.

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