New York

The last time I was in the big city was the summer of 2004. A week after graduating from college alongside my best girl friends. Amidst a city we had all romanticized for a good part of our early twenties. Pining away on our mother's couches every Sunday night from an opposite coast, enchanted as we watched Carrie strutting her stuff downtown throughout the highs and lows of her 30's life crises, with notoriously sleek city girl charm. Where lulls and Heartaches it appeared, never lasted very long in the face of the fast paced kinetic streets of New York City.

Returning this round, a decade later, it happened under notably less romantic terms. To visit my best friend (whom, btw, I've yet to fully forgive for up and leaving me - so Jess if you're reading this, please know my grudge is withstanding) in her newly inhabited Brooklyn loft she shares with her girlfriend, Rachel, a South Hampton native . My birthday added one more convenient selling point. Though surprisingly enough, it wasn't nearly as hard as I had imagined to convince the ladies to get on board. Strange only because of how difficult it is to coordinate something so mundane as BBQ on the weekend to complement all of our schedules. Yet mention of four day (nearly kid less) trip to The Big Apple, in the dead of Fall, pulls 'em together seamlessly like the last tug of a seasoned knitter's finishing stitch.

Good thing. Because I can't really imagine being there without them. Or more, with Mike for that matter. Only because he isn't the kind to soak up the thrill of a big city. And really, that city, with girl friends is the whole allure for me anyway. Having a wild time away with dear friends who's company with the addition of children, remains only in fleeting, broken conversations in the chaotic hours we still dedicate to each other. Or in this case, merely whatever we might manage with an 18 month in tow. Which, actually, proved much more than I expected.

We drank mimosas together on a lazy Friday morning after coming in from the airport and taking a long nap to shrug off jet lag, then woke in a sad bleak stupor over hearing pieced together news bits of the Paris attacks. Which I forcefully turned myself off from seeing how I know the nature of my anxiety and how quickly it would rise following the unfolding of it. We watched the Matt Damon Liberace movie together before heading out for a freezing bus top tour of Manhattan in the evening that brought along a cold so stinging it called for whiskey in coffee cups just to keep us warm and steady atop that rolling blustery rooftop, and coats much warmer than the pathetic "sweater" version I had purchased stupidly (especially) for this very trip (As hard as I try, a sensible winter wardrobe is likely something I'll never "get." Seeing how poorly I packed in light of a 47 degree weather warning sitting on my phone the whole week leading up to our flight.) New Yorkers understand the depths of "layering" we Californians can never truly comprehend.

Other, memorable points of the trip came in the form of:

Italian dinner at Franks where we sat stacked like frozen sardines in the back booth of that quaint little restaurant and got half way drunk off dirty martinis and stuffed ourselves full of fresh Gnocchi and french baguettes & butter.

A killer rendition of "Proud Mary" sung by an old man on a subway car with a blues tone so authentic it sent us all reeling and prompted a full car sing along, a little dancing, and a few dollar bills from the pockets of otherwise uneffected passegners handed his way.

Karaoke at a dive bar with free pizza where Denise delivered one amazing cover of Lorde's "Royals" that won over the crowd instantly. Though it was lost shortly thereafter in a less than dazzling duet with Jess on Garth Brooke's "Friends in Low Places" where even Kate - who had managed suitable dance moves to match everything that hit the mike that night, from death metal to Enya, took a quick seat on that one. Something I can't help but laugh about every time I think of it. (Jess, again, if you're reading this, just know that it wasn't YOU, it was the song.)

A freezing late night back at the loft after karaoke, and too many free pizzas, on the back patio, filled with laughter.

"Family style" Mediterranean dinner at Glasserie where the Challah bread stole the show.

Margaritas and top notch Mexican food I didn't suspect NY was capable of, at tiny Calaca in Greenpoint.

A quick roll down to High Line park at dark.

An exceptionally warm and friendly bar that welcomed us in with a baby and served us free drinks to make up for a plate of frozen oysters.

Champagne, bagels, and revived sunshine in Tompkins Square Park mid morning, that did a great job of making up for the slightly terrifying incident that erupted when I strayed from the group picnic to walk Hayes over to the playground where I stood for the better part of an hour in sheer joy over people watching in such a pretty east coast park on such a spectacularly pretty east coast morning, but was grossly interrupted by a wild eyed man in a cable knit sweater, naked from the waist down thrashing about the bushes on the other side of the park gate, screaming profanities at us while trying to make his way over the fence to where Hayes was closest to him happily buckled into an infant swing. A frantic scene that first unfolded with us trying to gather our children away as quickly as possible, and ended in him being forcefully tackled and restrained by a fleet of officers as we made our way out of the park and across the street to figure out our next (less dramatic, less obscene  adventure) The true horror of that vision being not the deluded state of the man without pants, but rather the line of young women who stood back video taping him on the sidewalk as he screamed like an animal before the police finally arrived. Leaving me desperate for something sweet to replace the image with. Which came in the form of long strolls around Manhattan in search of a proper lunch spot, shopping at The Deep End Club, and snacks we settled on instead inside a most handsome gated garden where we were able to enjoy the new company of Bell and Latonya in peace while our babies snacked and played together on the grounds before dusk. In which a little afternoon spritzer, so quality conversation over a bag of jalapeno chips proved the quickest, most painless way to erase my first frightful nude NY run in.

All this to say that we had a fine time in New York. And next trip I hope to make the rounds in Springtime with Arlo. But still believe there should be some kind of law in place that prohibits best friends from moving across state line. I know Ms. Bradshaw would agree.

As a timely coincidence I was gifted a real, grown up carry on suitcase by TUMI (which has come to finally replace the tattered tweed one from the 1950's I've been lugging around since forever, embarrassing all those I travel with due to the sad state of it's overall appearance, and missing handle) and this travel stroller by Quinny which I cannot say enough great things about it. It's a functional, easy, lightweight and stylish way of carting around one kid in a crowded airport (or city) And was the only way I could keep up with the impressive hustle of the local mamas who handle the subways like nobody's buisness. Even when it means heaving it them up and down flight after flight of stairways to catch the right train. Back home now it's still all I'm using.

Many thanks to both companies for their support, and for handing off these two generous gifts I could happily recommend to anyone on the hunt for either items.

*lastly, if this trip had been sponsored (it's not but had it been) it should have come from Ativan. The unsung hero every time I board flight. Courtesy of my Mom.