Going back further yet brings us to the beginning of October. Apparently I’ve been absent for a while…
I’d been watching the ramp up working up to merimask ’s appearance on “The Martha Stewart Show.” It all came together scary fast. When she first started talking about it, I was very hopeful for a visit. We live about nine hours apart, so it would be a real shame for her to come as far as NYC and not be able to bridge that last hour and a bit that it takes from there to me. But as the pace and the planning accelerated I had to pretty much chalk it up to “maybe next time.” But just in case I warned work that I might be taking a very abrupt vacation day and let her know that I could be down in NYC on a couple of hours notice. Then I primed a co-worker to let me take over her TV so that I could at least watch live.
So you can imagine my shocked pleasure when Merimask called me at work from NYC to say that it looked like she’d have the afternoon free after taping the following day, and could I still come down? Of course I said yes, and immediately got on the phone with Bob to figure it out (while pulling up the Metro-North train schedule online.) The biggest problem was what to do with Charlotte. So I went out on a limb and called my parents. My mom’s response? “Sure – bring her down.” God bless grandparents. I told work I was taking a vacation day, figured out the train, and got my act together.
The next morning we packed Charlotte up and headed down to Brookfield. The brilliant part of this procedure was the proximity to train stations. Normally I take the train out of New Haven – it’s just easiest. That would have made for an extremely late pickup from my parents. So instead we dropped her off and continued into New York to the Brewster station which is just over the border from them. It’s probably been at least a decade since I was on the Harlem line as opposed to the New Haven line. Parking was… odd at that station. You park in one of the little narrow dirt lots that are kind of carved into the hillside, and put $5 in an envelope with your license plate number and drop it into a drop box by the railroad tracks. That’s rather aggressively informal to my way of thinking. Also, you’d better have your timing down, because if you’re on the lot side of the tracks when the train arrives there is no way to get to the station side until the train leaves. Which would really suck if that happens to be the train that you want to be on. We were there in plenty of time though, so despite a couple of false starts looking for parking, it all worked out just fine.
The trains on the Harlem line are MUCH nicer than the ones on the New Haven line.
We hit Grand Central, climbed up out of the bowels to the main concourse (we came in much deeper than I’m accustomed to,) and just as I was peering at the map to try to determine if I wanted to brave the subway or if we wanted to walk to the Met (it was a beautiful day,) my phone rang. Apparently Andrea had been trying to get through to me for a little bit, but we were too deeply underground for my phone to have signal. They were done taping and needed lunch, so we agreed to meet at the museum and grab something in the cafeteria.
This was one of my proudest moments. You see, I’m afraid of public transportation. I don’t understand it, and it frightens me. These days I will get on Metro North to go to NYC by myself and meet friends there, although I still prefer to have someone with me. But my first inclination is to walk to the Met. It’s only a couple of miles… I’ve taken the bus in the past when I was in a hurry or the weather was foul, but always with the greatest apprehension: how do you know where you are? Or when you should get off? Or where you can get off? But at least you can see outside. The subway? I’ve only taken the subway when following someone with a clue. I have this deep seated fear that I’ll get on the wrong train, going in the wrong direction, and end up somewhere out in Queens or something and not be able to get back (this actually happened to a coworker of mine, although I think he ended up in Brooklyn.) I still have yet to figure out how people find the subway entrances that go where they want. Numerous of my friends have mocked this phobia, and I did manage to figure out the Underground in London, so I felt I had to give it a try. I got us on the correct train, going in the correct direction, and got off at the correct stop. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I’m still very proud of myself. The only problem I was having was figure out which direction we were pointing when we got up to street level, and before I could get my bearings on a map some nice lady offered to help and pointed us in the correct direction.
The cool thing about going around the Met with Andrea and Greg was that we went to see things that I don’t usually look at. I’m almost always there for a special exhibition, and at the end I’m exhausted and just head home. We crawled through the Egyptian galleries from one end to the other – I haven’t been through some of those galleries in over twenty years, since I was there with a high school field trip. I’d forgotten how much stuff they have. After Egypt we took a walk through the Japanese gallery. Their Asian holdings aren’t as large, and the Hokusai prints were out on loan, unfortunately for us. I guess we’ll just have to go back again some time. Darn.
At that point I, for one, was in complete visual overload, so we headed out for Rockefeller Center. That’s another place I haven’t been for a couple of decades. We went to the Rock Center Cafe by the skating rink, and got a table next to the windows right on the rink looking out at Prometheus. Dinner was fabulous, and the company, of course, was outstanding.
We got to talking about it at dinner – she and I have known each other mumblemumble years. Probably close to twenty. Maybe slightly more than twenty. I’d have to go back and see if I could find a date for that War of Roses. I wasn’t really a newbie scadian any longer, but I was still newish, and was just making a name for myself as a scribe. Bob was off doing something, and I was bored and wandering the merchants. There was this one lady at a table outside who had the coolest leather masks – I couldn’t afford her stuff, but I guess she was kind of bored too, because we started chatting. I told her about my bucket: I was working on a batch of slaked plaster for gilding for the first time, and she thought the process was fascinating (along with the fact that I would actually DO it.) The rest, as they say, was history. It just doesn’t feel like that long. I think it’s because our lives only used to touch occasionally – we would bump into each other at Pennsic, or at the occasional event, and we’d frantically catch up on a year’s worth of news. I spent one entire Pennsic hiding at her booth like a wounded bird when things blew up in a firestorm of shattered friendships. Until she talked me into LiveJournal, it was a once-a-year relationship, and because of that I hadn’t really realized how many years it was. It’s one of those friendships where it always feels like just yesterday, even though it’s been two years.
After dinner she took us into the lobby of 30 Rockefeller Center to see the “American Progress” murals. I don’t think I’d ever seen them before – they’re spectacular. They reminded me very strongly of the ceiling of the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, but that was a different artist (I checked.) We took a leisurely walk down to 42nd Street, said our goodbyes, and we turned left for Grand Central while they turned right towards their hotel at Times Square. We were in plenty of time for our train, and were back to my parents’ house before 10:00. Loaded up the sleeping baby and drove home.
It was a good day. I’m not a very spontaneous person – I typically have backup plans for my backup plans, so the idea of “drop everything, go to New York, and make it up as you go” was very, very foreign. But it was fun. Someday we need to do that again – but my way. With a plan. :-)