Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn

On our final day in New York, we had one last adventure.

It did involve the subway.

Let me get a few things straight for you, though. I went with my aunt to New York. This particular aunt is my dad’s sister. One of the things I specifically requested we do was to go visit my cousin who lives in Brooklyn. This cousin is the son of my mom’s sister. So . . . the aunt and the cousin? Not related. Got it? Good.

We got up and checked out of the hotel before doing a bit of walking around. I suppose it’s just me thinking of New York as being completely different than the Bible Belt, but I was surprised that some stores don’t open until later on Sundays. Anyway, we took the F train out to Brooklyn, wandered a bit until we found the correct street, and finally made our way up the stairs to my cousin’s fantastic apartment.

My cousin and I were very close growing up – we were the oldest two grandkids and our moms are sisters, so we were thrown together a lot. Almost all of my memories of Grandma’s house involve him. I even moved into his old room when I lived with my aunt (mom’s sister, for those keeping score) and uncle while I was in college. (Now we argue about whose room it is. He still claims it’s his room, but I lived there last.) I idolized him when I was young, and I’m always glad to see him when he is in town.

He grew up in Greensboro, and to me, his life was one to envy. He got to live in a city instead of a small town and he got to go to a private school and had all these opportunities I didn’t have. When he finished college, he moved to New York as soon as he could. I found that inconceivable. (heh.) I mean, why would you want to leave the south? New York is big and scary and rude!

Now that I have seen how he lives, I take it back. I can see the charm of walking everywhere and I think I could even get used to the subway (after a bit). I saw his neighborhood, and it’s not big scary impersonal New York. It’s a neighborhood with brownstones and apartments. People walk instead of drive and leave stuff they don’t want in front of their gate or hanging on the rail (we must have stopped five times on the way to and from the restaurant where we had brunch). The weather was just perfect, the shops were adorable, and brunch was quite tasty.

“If you want to make Brooklyn in words or film or paint, you must see the way the sun defines the silent streets on an early Sunday morning, sculpting trees, buildings, fire hydrants, stray dogs, and wandering people with an almost perfect clarity.” – Pete Hamill

I can’t put it into words, exactly, and I don’t want to move there, but I can finally see why he did.

He bought an apartment last year, and I was excited to see it, but I was really excited to finally meet his girlfriend. Just as everyone had said, they are great together, and I loved meeting her. I look forward to spending more time with her when they are around for the holidays. We talked about books and records (no, really, records) and movies and family and it was great. His apartment is on the fourth floor, and in that particular building it means that he owns part of the roof, so we went up to their deck and had a wonderful view of the Manhattan skyline. I also got a great meal . . . they took us to a restaurant for brunch. For me, brunch is tricky, because I don’t eat eggs. Not scrambled, not fried, not sunny-side-up (although I will sometimes eat the yolk when they are made that way). And, I’m not low-carb or anything, but I have cut back on starches (and I feel much better for it), so I don’t eat hash browns anymore. But I can’t very well just order a plate full of bacon and sausage, can I? However, I decided to be daring (for me) and I ordered something that had granola, yogurt and fruit. It was delicious (I was afraid it would have melons in it, which it did, but not too many. And it had strawberries), although I did feel like a pariah as I was the only one at the table who didn’t have eggs. If only I didn’t detest the smell quite as much as I do.

When we walked back to their place, my foot was killing me. Truly killing me. They must think I am the slowest person on the planet, because I was trying not to let it show.

My aunt and I got the F train back to Manhattan. Are you ready to hear about my proudest moment? They rerouted the F train, and I still got us back to the hotel safely. Oh, yes, I am practically a pro at maneuvering the subway system. (That right there, that’s what we like to call a joke.) My cousin and his girlfriend had mentioned that that train often got rerouted on the weekends, so I was paying extra close attention in case that happened. It brought out one of my paranoid tendencies, though. I have this fear of looking stupid, so I didn’t want to pull out or look at the map so that I wouldn’t look touristy. But I had to read at the map, because otherwise I wouldn’t know which train to take. I act as if everyone will point and laugh if I admit I don’t know something. The truth is that no one was really paying attention to me at all. I tried to embrace that truth as I got out the map. hehe.

We finally got back to the hotel (Kari: I don’t know how much more I can walk. Aunt: Do you want me to get a taxi? Kari: We are half a block from the hotel. If I have to crawl, I need to make it. Because calling a taxi for a half a block is just sad) and I wrapped my foot, we got a cab to the airport, and we waited for our plane. I gave up on Vanity Fair when I lost track of who some of the characters were (but I read the Cliff Notes when I got back to work, so I am ready to start up again) and just read some of the New York guides we had with us. I definitely left with a better sense of how the city is laid out than I had before.

When we boarded our plane, imagine my surprise to see that Heather was our flight attendant once again. (We had that happen one other time when we went to New York – getting the same flight attendant both ways.) She entertained us with the glasses and stories of her mother whipping her with switches for misbehavior (“I always said my momma should have been a dominatrix”). Our trip started and ended with her shenanigans, which was a fitting way to sandwich all the getting lost (and saving ourselves at the last second from being lost) that we did.

This was my first “grown-up” trip to New York, and I think I enjoyed it more than any other time I had been. Great weather, good food, excellent company . . . *contented sigh.*

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