The Californian

 

“I am not a beach guy,” said I, at age, sixteen. The sand, surf, and blazing California sun, didn’t quite tickle my fancy. One summer, my dad talked me into a road trip to Malibu.

In the midst of a-list celebrities, glitzy trailer parks, and rugged hills, was the piercing blue ocean. The most popular spot was Zuma beach, a grand surfer’s spot with an eclectic beach going crowd.

After recovering from extreme motion sickness, my father and I walked into the piping hot sand. It contrasted a very mellow California sun.

The waves crashed against the sun. It’s ferocious roar sounded like a lion. “Why don’t you get in the water, Anthony?” asked my father. I don’t wanna go into too deep, I forgot how to swim, said I, drenched in sunscreen.

“Oh give me a break, enjoy the water,” said my father, who was basking in the Malibu grandeur. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a gaggle of attractive, shirtless guys dash toward the Pacific Ocean. “Fuck drowning, I am going in,” said I.

The relatively cold Pacific Ocean was refreshing for me. It was a treat for me feet, which were roasting in the sand. I went in a bit deeper. “ Oh this isn’t so bad,” said I.

My Malibu buzz was quickly killed. A flying football narrowly missed my precious face. It also nearly knocked me into the water. “Oh who’s the fucking asshole, who threw that ball?” said I, internally (of course).

”I am sorry about the ball,” said the voice with a distinct California accent. Unexpectedly, a handsome young man appeared. He smiled with his big brown eyes illuminating perfect white teeth, which contrasted my mouth full of metal (I had braces, forever).

“You’re not a beach guy, are you?” he asked with a giggle. I smirked, “no, I am from landlocked Riverside. He went back to playing football with his buddies.

“Shit, times like this, I should’ve fake drowning, I would had some mouth to mouth madness,” said I. I admired the Malibu charmer from a distance as the football was tossed from one well tone and muscular guy to the other.

I walked toward the sand, with the following thoughts in my head, “gee, I wish more guys at my age were out of the closet or that I could ask a guy out and not be disappointed that’s he not gay or not into me.” Disappointingly, I left the shores of Zuma, lacking romance.

The old song, “why must I be a teenager in love” played in my head. “Oh well, I thought, at least dad and I will go for ice cream. The world tastes better sprinkled with hot fudge and a cherry on top.

Sing along with Radiohead

“Fake Plastic trees by Radio, isn’t exactly a staple on Christmas Eve. After of campy holiday songs ware off, nothing says happy holidays like mellow 90’s Brit Pop.

This past Christmas Eve, I woke up excitedly. I blasted the quintessential Radiohead jam and did the happy dance. “Yeah, I am on vacation, this is thrilling,” said I. That morning I opened my Facebook. It was a montage of photographs featuring luxurious images of New York airports from JFK’s Delta airlines terminal to planes waiting take off at Newark.

Then I realized, “oh yes, it’s Christmas Eve,” everyone is going home for the holidays. I too was headed out west for Christmas, but didn’t leave till the next day. A part of me, just wanted to be home in California with my father, enjoying the back patio and grilling steaks. Tear, tear, I had to find a way to comfort my poor self, while I waited for time to pass by. Oh and did find the ideal while to brush off that lonely feeling, the New Yorker way.

On my day off, I headed for my happy medium, Brooklyn Bagel in Chelsea. “That’s right nobody is going to be in town, except tourists and they’re in Midtown. No lines for me,” said I. Those were the cliché famous last words, since Brooklyn Bagel was packed. Although, the streets were a bit emptier, everyone had the same idea.

Fortunately, I found a seat and indulged in a most delectable bagel. “I must keep myself occupied and not get homesick, how do I do that?” I took a long walk from Chelsea to the East Village. While fastening my pea coat, I peered into the pavements of gritty yet charming First Avenue. “Wow, it’s oh so quiet, just like the Bjork song,” said I.

“There won’t be a line at the Bean (coffee shop) or at the Strand (bookshop). Wow, fuck loneliness, the East Village feels like my own personal playground and it’s fantastic,” said I. It was marvelous walking around without people traffic (my previous New York years, I was in California for Christmas eve). Then I realized, “oh I still don’t have someone to spend Christmas Eve with.

Like any proper urbanite away from family on Christmas Eve, I had found my alternative and it wasn’t on Grindr.

Rocco was his name. He’s a cold-blooded fellow, thanks to being a turtle (which falls in the reptile family). My friend Krista had me feed him his holiday supper, since she was in Chicago for the holidays. That’s right; turtle sitting wore off the loneliness of being away from family. Watching the turtle munch on vegetable sticks gave me purpose in the midst of jingle bell rocks.

After an adventure in turtle sitting, I took the 3 train home to Harlem. An elderly woman hopped on the train and proclaimed “Merry Christmas to everyone.” Surprisingly, everyone was equally jolly in the tough nosed subway. The holiday cheer actually made my night.

I came home and packed my bags. For my holiday dinner, I ate a chicken pot pie. I traded Radiohead for a Charlie Brown’s Christmas tunes. It was a great end to a day, which could have been lonely, ended up being lovely. With eyelids fully closed, I eagerly awaited the early morning flight to California and quality time with my father.

 

The Introverted Fellow

On evenings spent at home, I switch from fancy French films with lavish subtitles and 80’s teen flicks to quirkier viewing. Before journeying into the isle of sleep, I sometimes enjoy watching old Oscar acceptance speeches on YouTube.

The raw emotions, theatrics and joyful demeanor of the winners’ tugs at the heart strings each time. While I revel and sometimes giggle at the sassy acceptance speeches of Cher & Barbara Streisand (had to give a shout out to the gay icons), I always wondered, “gee how the heck do you get up on stage and pretend not too morph into a big ball of anxiety?”

I never fancied pursing a career as an actor. It always seemed grueling to go on a stage and act. Little did I know, that eventually, I too would have to perform the greatest monologues on life’s stage.

I am an extrovert, who loves people. However, I was also hiding a very little known fact. Drum roll please, I had social anxiety. In new situations and crowded places, where I had to socialize, a case of nervous jitters would appear.

Like any proper lad would do, I indulged on a refreshing glass of whisky too loosen up. Alas, it didn’t work. By the end of the party, I would survive, make a witty joke and have memories of a great evening out, though the social anxiety persisted.

On the first big snow of the New York winter season, I woke up excitedly. It was my friend’s birthday in Harlem and the winter sky was calming. I walked out of my modest Harlem apartment with a beautiful bottle of champagne to celebrate. I was then struck by anxiety quickly, as the snow fell gracefully into black pea coat.

“Oh no new people, lots of single guys, what do I do? What do I talk about?” said I. Passing the snow covered hills of St. Nicholas Park and Harlem’s very elegant architectural gems, the fear nearly crippled me. Finally, I arrived at my friend’s apartment. I rinsed the snow from my dark curls and rode the elevator up.

Channeling Barbara Streisand’s Oscar speech was monumental. She was just her witty self on stage. I too must be my witty, quirky self and strut my stuff at this party,” said I. The negative thoughts fled like snowbirds heading south for the winter. “Think Funny Girl,” I did and evolved from a bag full of social anxiety to a fabulous grand dame of the ball.

I danced to 80’s music, made new friends and had frosty adult beverages to commemorate the special day. Then as Duran Duran’s Hungry like a wolf echoed throughout the apartment, the gays arrived. My face turned tomato red. They were really cute. The apartment’s heat levels escalated to inferno levels.

“Be quirky, be funny, but most of all have fun, cause everyone poops and there’s nothing to be intimidated by,” said I (speaking internally). I took a generous gulp of champagne and mingled with the boys. Not a bit of nervousness penetrated through my jolly exterior. By the end of the soiree, I made plenty of new friends and had a splendid time.

Social anxiety reared its unfashionable frock many times after that. With wit, I said the hell with and learned to revel in every campy moment. When one can’t conquer a room full of revelers, pronouncing “hello, gorgeous” would win over friends and make even the stiffest personality into a loveable one.

Gay of New York

Each morning, some of the most beautiful men in the world walk hurriedly through Grand Central Station. Typically, they dress in suits, shoes well polished and carry sleek messenger bags.

Though not exactly the bohemian ideal, they do provide a quick wake-up in the hustle-bustle of a New York morning. With so much pressure to look a certain way, one is only poised for that ultimate beauty goal, but there are the rebels.

“I would like a plain bagel with scallion cream cheese,” say I, on an almost daily basis. That’s right rather than a juice for breakfast, I have always gone for the New York staple. As I grew into my thirties, the metabolism slowed.

However, I made an effort to eat healthier and drink less refreshing boozy beverages. In modern day New York, cleanses, juicing and healthy salads were substituting street meat and pretzels for the grand dame of culinary delights.

That’s it, I have to eat healthier, once I attended the “Big Apple BBQ, naturally,” said I. It has always been the greatest food event after restaurant week. The best BBQ joints in the country descend on Madison Square Park for a carnivore’s delight.

I met up with my best friends and stood in long lines for delicious BBQ. This past year also marked a first. In my whole history, I had never had BBQ for breakfast. It beats any early morning meal at the diner, said I, while eating ribs with my bare hands. After the Big Apple BBQ, I succumbed to meat coma. It felt great.

The next day, my inner caveman wanted a huge chunk of meat. Instead, I ate a salad with chicken. I daydreamed of the lavish BBQ from the day before. Although salads are lovely, I quickly returned to my carnivore ways. After biting into a French dip sandwich, I said the hell with juices and leaves of the forest, I am caveman, give me meat.”

My hat is off to those who can live the vegan lifestyle. It would take quite a bit of will power for me to say no to a rib eye. I may not be a six-foot model, but I am very comfortable with my face fuzz and slight tummy. Most importantly, I am still enjoying life with all the wonderful beers and hamburgers, which accompany every journey.

Rocketman on Mars

Into the dark abyss of outer space, flies one very flamboyant rocket man. His destination is Mars. Wonderment fills his partly fearful self.

Will the aliens on Mars look like life-size gummi bears? or are they more E.T. ?  He bounces up and down the perfectly pure dust of Mars, which resembles the Mojave Desert. The 2001: Space Odyssey theme plays.

Call from earth, his iPhone rings and he answers. ” You smile too much,” said the voice. Suddenly, our space man sinks into a dark hole with the rocky desert terrain. The hole leads into a white wall and rather bland looking room.

He opens his eyes and the elderly gentleman with the loveable Bronx accent, repeats himself. ” You smile too much. Sorry you’ve been excused from this case.  With those words, our rocket man is back to his New York reality. An hour later, his jury duty is over. I speak of yours truly, naturally.

The 2001: Space Odyssey theme was replaced with “What a feeling (from flashdance)” Triumphantly, he walks toward the West Village. The city had become more magical, mirroring a child’s first glimpse of Disneyland. Everything felt new again, especially after being stuck in a bland room, hoping to be dismissed as a juror.

While at jury duty, I entered the dreaded realm where dreams and imagination go to die. This dark realm wasn’t the twilight zone, but it’s most commonly known as boredom land. I coped with the boredom by becoming a rocket man. Traveling past the Milky Way, eating space ice cream and staring at earth from another planet. If it weren’t for my space expedition, I would’ve died of boredom (not literally).

The experience reminded me, with a little imagination I can get through any boring situation. That afternoon, I officially left space. There was so much happening I didn’t have to drift away. If I do get called back for jury duty after the next six years, I’ll take a round trip to Mars on the “spaceship fabulous.” Also, I would play up my perky personality; it certainly helped with getting dismissed.

Left Coast

Coffee sops, art galleries, gastro-pubs, old buildings, and a mismatch of political views; this isn’t New York’s East Village. It’s surprisingly, a world away, Riverside, CA.

Riverside may not be one of the world’s great cultural centers, but it’s ideal for a lovely holiday. Nestled in Southern California’s Box Springs Mountains, the city played host to my greatest daydreams. Growing up there in the 90s, the same thought persisted. “Oy, I want to leave this town surrounded by brown mountains and move to New York City,” said I.

I eventually moved to New York in my early twenties. In Manhattan, I have most recently resided in a small fifth floor walk-up. My windows overlook a quintessentially New York landscape. To one side, there are charming brownstones. If you glare up, the imposing redbrick projects, smile back. If you step outside onto my fire escape, the Midtown skyline flashes brightly way down the street.

This is my New York reality. Hence, my father’s home in Riverside has always been a lovely escape. Going out west has always meant delicious food in the fridge, cable TV and chirping crickets, thanks to the serene terrain.

Like any good Californian transplanted into a New Yorker, I’ve made an art form out of not driving a car. Traffic, parallel parking and freeways send my neurosis levels to skyrocketing high levels. Typically, I have my father and/or generous friends drive me around. However, I gave driving another shot.

My dad gave me the keys to his car. Like any proper creature of habit, I decided to re-create my East village routine in the heart of Downtown Riverside. I drove there, one Saturday afternoon.

Firstly, I commenced with a walk. I admired Riverside’s antiquity. It’s flower shops, restaurants gone al fresco, little fountains and street musicians provided a tranquil, but surprisingly lively vibe in the heart of suburban madness.

That afternoon, I enjoyed a latte at the local indie coffee shop and explored the titles at the favorite used bookstores. After a whole lot of strolling, I headed for a sandwich at the gourmet deli, Simple Simon’s.

After a day, which mirrored my routine in New York City, I still longed for that most suburban of moments. Risking loosing my cool urban card, I set off for that delicious slice of American peach pie.

“This top 40 station stinks,” said I. Quickly, I switched to 80’s music. Missing Persons, Culture Club & Depeche Mode were the soundtrack of my road trip. It brought me back to a time, when I romanticized about being an adult.

I parked in a parallel parking spot and stared up into the bright blue California sky. There it is, the Galleria at Tyler, Riverside’s premier shopping destination, where Nordstrom meets Forever 21 meets Cinnabon.

My first stop was Nordstrom’s. Since, we don’t have a Nordy’s (Nordstrom’s nickname), I went wild. I always adored their sneakers department. The sweet smell of men’s cologne dominated my nostrils. As, I secretly wished I had a boyfriend to enjoy this suburban moment.

After Nordstrom’s, I snuck into the actual mall. It was interesting. This was a world I once longed for, but like braces, had been buried in the graveyard of teenage angst. The galleria was secretly an enjoyable experience.

Also, the people watching was intriguing and different from my usual East Village/Upper West Side afternoons. There were soccer moms, different tribes of teenagers from gothic people to preps, families representing virtually every culture and college kids. After my quick run-through, I had my mall fix for a long while.

I returned back to my dad’s house, feeling slightly accomplished. That afternoon, I stepped out into the back patio and sniffed around, “oh it really smells like the suburbs,” said I. The suburbs smell like grass, but I most prefer the exotic smells of New York, when it’s not on the subway in summer.

 

Texas

3:30 AM in New York City, the neon lights of Times Square awaken the evening sky. Hold on, I don’t live near Times Square. Why are there flashing lights uptown? Shit, it’s a thunderstorm, said I. While still half asleep, I couldn’t go back to bed with the pitter-patter of raindrops.

On that dreary Thursday morning, I was off to that most grey of places, sunny Palm Springs, CA (insert laughter). As I wrestled with the notion of going back to bed, I had a 4 am car picking me up. As I almost shed a tear to accompany the sad sky outside, I prepared my outfit for the great expedition out west.

I was all packed up for the trip. Feeling like Mr. Cary Grant, I sashayed down my walk-up, schlepping a very heavy carry-on. The thunder persisted, which caused me to make a less than glamorous dash into the car.

As my car drove slowly through the rain soaked Tri-Borough Bridge, the Manhattan skyline was fogged in. From a distance the Chrysler building is was adorned with white lights.

Hello Queens, I arrived at La Guardia. The road from New York to Palm Springs, would take a detour into Dallas-Fort Worth. By 5 AM, I was already cranky and exhausted. However, grand images of Palm Springs play like great actors on the Broadway stage; the grand mountains with windmills, desert sands, kitschy 50s architecture, pool parties with tons of gays and most inspiring of all, seeing my father, who lives in California.

I successfully reached the gate and get ready to board my flight. “The layover in Dallas was a quick one. I must get my power-walking New Yorker skills into play,” said I, while flipping through the duty free guide. The rain falls into hibernation. I gleefully stare out the window. “Sorry folks, we’re having electrical issues, we will be delayed for few minutes,” said the pilot.

It was like an intense needle scratch on a precious Beatles tune for my ears. “What I can’t be delayed, I have a flight to Palm Springs to catch. I really want to have a burrito at Las Casuelas with my dad. I listened to my most calming golden oldies, while the plane remained stuck at LaGuardia.

By 6:30 AM, the problem had been fixed; the plane took off like a bird headed south for line dancing.  Good-bye New York, see you in four days, said I. Then I closed the window shade on the Northeast. I watched a campy gay film on my laptop. I drank airplane coffee, which has always been a frightening concept.

I re-opened the shade, while flying somewhere over Texas. The land was flat and green. I imagined, Texas to be less green. Slowly the airplane approached the Dallas. The houses were wide and came accompanied with crystal blue-watered pools.

As the plane continued its path, quintessential Texas images emerged. Football fields, water towers, expansive freeways and more large houses. The Dallas skyline in the far distance was in a sea of haze as the expanse

9:05 AM, Finally, the plane made its final descent into Dallas-Fort Worth airport. It landed. I called my dad, to let him know I was halfway to California. Dashing from the plane, I stepped into DFW, which like Texas was sprawling. You could fit several generations of Smurfs and still have plenty of room for more. It was also clean and modern, as opposed to other airports (cough, cough LGA & JFK)

I dashed through the terminal, passing many chain restaurants and weary travelers. “I may have a short window, but I’ll make this flight, I told myself. “It’s right across the terminal, since every airline is housed in one marvelous terminal,” said I. Swiftly, I looked up at the very high escalator with signs directing passengers to distant fairy tale lands. These lands were DFW’s other terminals.

Reaching the top of the escalators, I entered the air train. For once, I too felt like a lost puppy dog. With great confusion, I asked a friendly Texan, “Excuse me, is this the right way to gate D14? She smiled and said, “Yes, this is the right train. It goes in a circular loop around DFW.

Fortunately for me, my terminal was at the end of the loop (not). I listened to melancholy 90’s music. The train looped around every terminal. Round orange lights shined brightly every time; the train arrived at another riveting terminal. My New York neurosis levels rose to extreme highs. This was a true fete, which could only be accomplished outside the five boroughs.

“Goodbye burritos from Las Casuelas,” said I. ” Guess, it’s Applebee’s at DFW for me. Oy, airport food,” said I. “

Texas BBQ, sausage, pulled pork, sausage with a beer,” said my brain while speaking gently to my taste buds. “That’s right, if I get stuck in Dallas, I could call my friend, Nicky and head out of the airport for real Texan style BBQ, a foodie’s dream, naturally.

After many commercial breaks, I arrived at my terminal. Secretly, I wanted to get stuck in Dallas, as an excuse to eat really well. So, I walked just a bit slower. My flight just happened to be at the very end of the terminal. When I finally arrived at the gate, my anxiety levels and reality kicked. Shit, I have a hotel in Palm Springs, I must check-in, said I.

As I proceeded to obtain my boarding pass, the agent gave me a stern look. “Did you give away my seat?” I asked. She shook her head, yes. With one nervous gulp, I said to myself “At least, I’ll have a good food coma, if I have to take the nighttime flight.” Miraculously, the travel fairies sprinkled their dust on my head. A seat happened to pop up.

I boarded the flight to Palm Springs. “Sorry Dallas, I didn’t get to explore your delightful culinary scene, but there’s always a sequel to DFW somewhere in my future. “In the meantime, it was hello Palm Springs, ” said I.

The plane took off. I met a wonderful new friend and had an amazing land locked flight. After three hours, I landed and experienced the crown jewel of California summers, dry heat. I was lovingly reunited with my father. As predicted we had a very large burrito from Las Casuelas.

Then in a scene out of a Woody Allen movie, the weather became slightly neurotic, especially for old Palm Springs. Boom, there was rain with a hint of humidity, followed by rain. “Oy, you can take the boy out of New York for four days, but the shit weather will follow is the moral of this story.

Augusten

Droopy ears, a button nose and a tail, which wags to the sounds of Ethel Mermen, this character isn’t another gay date for me; it’s my ideal future puppy.

Augusten (named after author, Augusten Burroughs) resides in the figments of my imagination, alongside all my imaginary friends of yesteryear. The idea of having a puppy didn’t quite find it’s home in imagination land, until one spectacularly chilly April afternoon.

While out in the East Village, I decided to visit my favorite coffee shop, The Bean. It’s a most wonderful cozy place, on the corner of Ninth and First Ave. Regardless of the unseasonably cold temperature; I bought a Mona Lisa (a cousin to the Frappuccino, an ice blended beverage with vanilla flavoring). I sat outside on one of the inviting benches and people watched.

While watching, hipsters, old people with rent control and clueless tourists, I started to shiver. However, I continued to sit on the bench, since I was thoroughly enjoying the free entertainment. As I peered to my right, a very attractive silver fox (attractive older guy), strolled Ninth Street with an adorable, but gigantic, black lab.

“Geez, big dog= big apartment,” said I, while sipping into the final stretch of my blended drink. The black lab walked toward me. I didn’t pay him any attention, since I was listening to Tori Amos and drifting into never land. The dog parked himself in front of me. His frustrated owner tried tugging his leash, but the dog wouldn’t budge.

“Sorry about that, he’s never done that before,” said Mr. Silver Fox. I played with the dog a bit, but really I was interested in the owner. My thoughts were “this dog is a yenta.” He’s trying to match two lonely New York gays. Finally, after a few minutes with the dog and Silver Fox, they left. No romantic connections, but the playing with the puppy kept me thinking.

” A dog, such a novel idea. We could go play at the dog park at Madison Square Park, take long walks in the East Village and watch great John Hughes films from the 80s at night, said I.

It was simply magical. Especially living by myself all the way uptown, a dog would be a great companion. I could also join doggy owner groups. It was also a fantastic way to meet guys. The gays do love their dogs.

As the idea became more endearing, I called my cousin. “You with a dog. I can’t see you picking up poop,” said she with a giggle. Poop, that’s right, they do poop, said I to myself.

Bringing Augusten, home didn’t seem so wonderful. I realized at this point in my life, I didn’t spend much time at home and need a bigger apartment.

Hence, my puppy will become a reality years down the line. In the meantime, my (0wn) droopy ears and I will enjoy treats, while listening to super duper gay Broadway show tunes.

The Witty Wordsmith

New York, late winter, the sky is an intense shade of grey. The trees remained bare of any lively bright leaves. In the midst of the eerie grey, a remarkable bit of sunshine played peek-a-boo behind a rainy cloud.

On such an idyllic winter’s day, I set off on foot for St. Nicholas Park in Harlem. It’s a most wonderful park, which fades into hilly fields of green. Regardless of the cold, I’ve always adored sitting on a park bench and reading a good book. Quality time with a book is my ideal form of therapy. I fade into a character’s shoes and forget any of the day troubles.

On one riveting expedition, I sought a most wonderful park bench. As, I picked a perfect little spot for literary madness, the cold winds penetrated through my layers, and pea coat.

For once in my life, I shivered. The goose bumps on my arm grew more sensitive. At that point, I had to look elsewhere for a romantic date with my used book from the Strand bookstore.

I wandered through Harlem’s Hamilton’s Heights neighborhood. It’s the perfect backdrop for any quirky film (Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums was filmed there). The brownstones are eccentric yet sophisticated characters in their own right.

The hills have provided an escape from the quintessentially Manhattan painting. Bay windows, dramatic stoops and old world charm could inspire poets, painters and playwrights of life to create a proper work of art.

While heading up the hill toward Broadway, I was craving a hot chocolate from the Chipped Cup (my favorite coffee shop, uptown). On that pleasantly quiet Sunday, everyone had the same idea.

The quaint coffee shop was filled with patrons. I was disappointed, since I just wanted was to read a good book. So, I headed back down to 145 street.

To my disappointed, Dunkin Donuts was also filled to the brim with people. I didn’t want to go back to my apartment, since I was really craving a coffee shop. Instead of giving up hope, I took an unexpected turn.

The Eighth avenue subway provided the ears with a classic sound, which only a raspy record player could rival. I found my reading spot, a seat on the subway platform. Even though, the subway has many distractions, I’ve always found it an easy place to concentrate on a book there.

When the A train arrived, I boarded it merrily. I even found a seat. However, distraction found me. “Why don’t you put a chip in me, so you know where I am at all times, said a girlfriend to an equally angry boyfriend. They fought. They whole train watched. Trying to hold back laughter, I tried very hard to not loose concentration on my book.

The arguing heightened into theatrical satire. “Fuck it, I can’t think with this racket going on. At least, there aren’t break-dancers on this train, ” said I. “Showtime,” yelled a boy with a boom box.” Break-dancers with a giant boom box appeared from the blue to everyone’s annoyance.

My eyes didn’t leave my book. Anyhow, my brain was completely distracted. I made it to West 4th Street. Randomly, I decided a cannoli would be amazing.

So, I boarded the F train to Second Avenue and ended up in the East Village. I headed up First Avenue and into the old world charm of Veniero’s (legendary dessert restaurant in the East Village). I ordered a cannoli and opted for a cappuccino rather than a hot chocolate.

I took out my book and found a swell place to concentrate. It only took a long walk, two trains and another somewhat long walk to find my literary Zen. Regardless, my literary Zen was a whole lot better with a delicious cannoli accompanying it.

Illuminate Yourself With A bright Red Tie

The immense fog of San Francisco married the flurries of Alaska. Afterwards, they traveled east to New York for a dream honeymoon. They made their presence known, engulfing the city’s tenement masterpieces into a sea of grey.

It was a sight to wake up to. While, a part of me, wanted to order food from seamless web, watch endless documentaries ranging from fashion photography to the art of sushi making and (just plain) hibernate, the Indiana Jones in me longed for an adventure.

Rather, than having wanderlust about the lost arc or being chased by a giant rock, I got all dolled up. I placed by tortoise shell glasses on, which accentuated my navy blue pea coat.

Something was missing. I dug deep in the far reaches of my closet. My archaeological dig did not produce a missing link to the T-Rex family, but I did find a precious relic.

“My red tie, here you are, ” I said to myself. I tied it over my grey blue shirt and put my favorite grey cardigan on. It was more Upper West Side than Indiana Jones, but it was most fitting for adventure seeking in the city.

I gained fuel at my favorite diner on Amsterdam Ave. Afterwards; I walked up 72nd Street toward Central Park. In the midst of snow and intense grey, New York lacked color. It was the equivalent of fading into an old black and white film. The only hint of color was leaping from my fiery red tie.

The pitter pater of snow persisted. I reached the imposing apartment blocks of Fifth Avenue. Snow banks, Barney’s NY shopping bags and well-heeled ladies in fur coats created a most quintessential Upper East Side memory.

I walked toward Lexington Avenue with the intent to grab the 4/5 train downtown for an afternoon nosh (snack) and cappuccino. While craving my adrenaline rush from a coffee bean, I experienced a cinematic moment. Truman Capote referred to Lexington Ave as charmless.

Walking from the East seventies to the fifties.  Lex (which I walked on a million times or so. Lex is how we refer to it here) was actually proving to be quiet lovely. Old bookshops, cafes, mom n’ pop restaurants, pre-war buildings and side streets with imposing brownstones birthed a classically New York scene.

I saw the F train station at 63rd street. “How wonderful, I’ll take the F train to the Lower East Side,” said I. When I reached the station, it was a confusing mismatch of platforms and escalators. In my whole history in New York, I had only been lost on the subway once.

This time around, the lack of platform signs indicating uptown/downtown confused me. I was officially lost in translation and on a Queens bound F train. Rather than becoming flustered, I thought to myself ” oh this train stops in Roosevelt Island (an island in the middle of the East River), I’ll just switch over to a downtown train there.

When I stepped off the subway at Roosevelt Island, curiosity captured my heart. I saw another intense set of escalators, which were so high, I wondered if I would be dancing in a sea of clouds.

The explorer in me wanted to see a part of the city, which I had never explored before. As I leaped out of the F train station, the snow morphed into a light dusting of frost.

Roosevelt island was filled with steel and glass modern apartments. However, one sight would be the red tie to an otherwise colorless day.

My eyes met the Queens-borough Bridge. It jutted across the island. The tram moved slowly (there’s a tram which takes residents from Roosevelt to Manhattan) in the midst of the background of the Manhattan skyline.

It provided me with the holy grail of New York memories. I strolled around the island a bit and finally headed downtown. After entering the subway, I could officially say “I’ve been on Roosevelt Island.

After exiting the Second Avenue subway station, I marveled at the grey skies. The snow stopped. I walked toward a coffee shop, which had vintage rock n’ roll posters and plenty of electrical outlets (to charge my phone). While trying to resist the temptation of heading inside Katz’s, an epiphany came into my brain.

That particular day with it’s snow filled skies, Kodak worthy pictures of the Queens borough bridge & overall happy spirit, will remain one of those special nostalgic memories. “Wow, sometimes, I really am the Indiana Jones of Manhattan. If Indiana Jones wore a bunch of cardigans and wrote a blog, of course,” said I.

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