Tea, Crumpets, and Cardigans

The Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel always exuded old New York glamour. The tea, sandwiches, and little desserts serve at high tea were scrumptious, in a rich people kind of way. I sat across from my L.A. bestie, Nicole. She didn’t like desserts. I gladly ate the sweets for her. The bill arrived.

“Oy, $70 for snacks and tea, I can’t believe you convinced me to come here,” I said, dreading to put my credit card down.

“It’s a life experience,” she replied.

A half hour later, we left the Plaza Hotel’s 1% bubble. On a 3 train, we traveled up to my beloved Harlem, aka, home. Unlike the fabulousness of the Plaza, my apartment was an old tenement with a twist. I lived on the fifth floor, in a spacious studio. Nicole just loved stairs. She adored them, couldn’t get enough of them.

“Why don’t you move to an elevator building? I would not want to drag my big suitcase up all these stairs.” She said, huffing and puffing.

“C’mon, just a few more flights to go,” I said.

My apartment was quite warm and semi empty, since I had just moved from the East 20’s, also known as six blocks above the East Village. The apartment was still barren. Only a foldout couch and air mattress greeted us. Nicole sat on the couch, still recovering from the long journey. Sadly, I had to return the air mattress to Krista, who lived in Tribeca (which is about 30 minutes from Harlem, on the subway). Watching the bed deflate was a bit sad. I needed to buy a bed, ASAP. After stuffing the deflated air mattress into a backpack-like casing, I made the journey down to the five flights of stairs.

“You really should’ve moved into an elevator building,” she said again, holding on to the railings.

“I can’t afford it. Stairs are fine. They give my tuckus some exercise,” I said.

Secretly, I agreed with her. Carrying that heavy air mattress was most dreadful. The dreadful journey from the top to bottom of my old tenement didn’t immediately end. Carrying the heavy bag from Seventh Avenue to the subway on Lenox Avenue proved especially grueling, seven minutes of agony.

“Shit, fuck, shit, I should’ve just bought a bed. The brownstones on the side streets are pretty. I will just focus on that,” I said to myself.

The heaviness weighed me down. Schvitizing through my cardigan was most uncomfortable. Alas,reaching the subway platform actually brought relief. The seven-minute journey ended for now. Subway passengers would grow agitated at me for schlepping such a monstrosity. The train took me directly to Franklin Avenue. Afterwards, we walked toward Krista’s Tribeca apartment. It took a long while, but we finally reached our destination. The air mattress was safely returned to its owner. My back didn’t break. Oh, and Krista’s apartment building had an elevator.

Nicole laughed, “You are not good at manual labor.”

“This is true. I hate carrying heavy shit. We’re going to go1 percent-er next time, and take a cab.” I declared.

Now that I live in a track home, I miss climbing up stairs. I miss days were I could start that would commence at the local deli (ordering bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll), but end up at the Plaza. Most of all, I miss Nicole, who passed away a bit over year ago.

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