Traveling: Brooklyn, New York

I love Brooklyn. You know how there are some places that you really feel could contribute to making you a different, maybe even better person? Despite the fact that you know deep down that no one and no place can bring you happiness and a feeling of home?

I feel that way about Brooklyn. Every part of my time there was the best part, and I was only there for a very fast-paced 40 hours. I saw a dear friend from high school, several friends from college, and even ran into a man I’d known as a teenager at a National Student Leadership Conference in 2003.

On Friday afternoon, March 16th I took the train from D.C. to New York, enjoying a chat with a very talkative college sophomore (I’m almost six years older than he is now… how did that happen…) along the way.

I arrived at Penn Station and tried very hard to follow Amanda’s directions “take the 2/3 to Borough Hall.” I did an okay job, asking only four or five people for help.

We decided to make these chicken meatballs from Inspired Taste I plugged earlier this week. I didn’t take many pictures while I was there as I had to do with my phone, but here they are, uncooked. They were amazing, and even better when we later reheated them in tomato sauce with vegetables. I’ve actually made these twice since then…

After dinner we stopped at our friend Matt’s place. We both knew him from college, and he’s a law student now too at the same school as Amanda. It’s wonderful having so many old friends concentrated in the same neighborhoods in New York.

I was lucky; my friend Dave from middle school and high school (which means we’ve known each other for ten years now…!) was in town that weekend as well. He went to college in New York and stayed there, as I did in D.C. We equipped ourselves with supplies and followed his directions to a friend’s apartment. One the resident’s friends had found this super awesome N*SYNC… cutout? that someone was just throwing away and decided it had to live over this doorway, in this particularly spectacular high-ceilinged apartment.

Dave seems happy and looks wonderful, and took us to see his friend’s band play at a bar. Everything about the experience was awesome. We stopped and got pizza slices and drinks for $1 each. Are there places in D.C. you can do that? Where are they? We walked through parks and alleys (well not many alleys) and passed sooo many people and places I’d never seen before. The bar was small but had large bouncy balls as chairs and also couches in the back, a raised platform serving as a stage, and a sweet list of caipirinha and sake-based cocktails. The band was wonderful and Dave’s friend enchanting. Her name is Sissy Clemens and the band is called Wax Poetic. Here’s them live at Joe’s Bar: 

We left around two a.m. and headed back across the bridge.

I woke up early and read, and enjoyed being in New York with Amanda. We have woken up in several countries together now… when we studied in Spain we traveled to Turkey, Greece and Italy. She had to head to school to work with the moot court in the afternoon, so we wandered around a bit and found things to do later in the day. There was a boutique where you could make bracelets and Peter Pan collars, a Middle Eastern cafe and hookah bar, and a small market in a square that stopped us briefly, and we moved on with the intent to return.

We had lunch at a Shake Shack, and it was my first time ever eating at one. It was pretty amazing: I had root beer on tap and a fried portabella mushroom with melted cheese and tomatoes. And crinkly fries!

I headed to Mocha Hookah, ordered a rosewater-flavored hookah and a mint tea, and read the fourth collection, “Season of Mists,” in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman graphic novel series. I’ve been having a wonderful time reading these… thanks, Ryan! Amanda eventually met up with me and we went back to her apartment to prepare for the evening.

(Source: NeilGaiman.com)

To prepare for the St. Patrick’s Day party and later events we made a version of a hot toddy: we put whole cloves and cinnamon sticks in a tea strainer and then boiling water, Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey whiskey and more honey in the teapot. After letting it steep we enjoyed the concoction along with leftovers crackers. The Amanda mentioned she saw friends taking shots of whiskey and then drinking pickle juice – pickle-backed shots. That seemed odd to me, but intriguing, though we amended it slightly and used actual pickles rather than pickle juice (the pickles were greener!)

Honey whiskey and pickles? Like orange juice and toothpaste. Not a good idea (we did two each anyway…)

After hot toddies and pickle-backed shots and getting all dressed up, we left the apartment and stopped at Amanda’s neighborhood liquor store for a whiskey tasting. I don’t remember the brand but the man serving it was fun and there was soda bread for accompaniment which brought back memories of Montessori school and baking themed treats all year round. We finally made it to the party on the roof an apartment building and it was in full swing. The party was from early afternoon to early evening and had been going strong for hours before we arrived. Good people, good music, lots to drink… good times all around.

As the gathering was winding down Amanda and I parted ways with plans to meet up later, and I headed to dinner with another old and beautiful friend, Sarah! Sarah and I were roommates in college and is among the few with which I”ve managed to stay in pretty constant contact.

And on the way I found…

We had dinner at a pasta place Sarah had been wanting to try called Oh My Pasta! It was incredible and perfect timing, as I’d been drinking for several hours and Sarah ran a half marathon Sunday the 18th! Carbs were key for both of us. It was lovely to catch up with her.

Sarah walked me back to the apartment and we passed the time til the early morning talking and eating and enjoying each other’s company. And she still kicked the half marathon’s ass the next day: 2:07: 25!!!!

Amanda and I had tea and breakfast together in the morning and then she sent me on my went to Penn Station and went to a Zumba class (before shoe shopping… I love her). I lost $2.50 from a machine that just decided at the last moment not to dispense a card, but luckily there was a man in the station selling swipes for $2.00 (again, really not something you’d ever see in D.C. Granted, I haven’t been everywhere in this vast city…) so I was good to go! On the subway (so hard not to call it the metro…) I saw many of the half marathon runners looking energized and proud, heading their various ways to clean up before a day of celebration.

One large coffee and thirty minutes later I was settled on an Acela train (really worth it sometimes).

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

I had a wonderful time. New York is so fun. I love cities and people.

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