When I left for New York City I was riding the highs of a giving zero f*cks phase. This was near the end of a satisfying summer, what felt like months of hanging out. As these trips stack up it’s very apparent the time and place they fall within my year, and this was perfect timing; not interfering with a transition or any commitments [see: giving zero f*cks]. I’ve always been pretty lukewarm about NYC [crowded, unfamiliar, overwhelming…]. Although I’d been a handful of times before I still don’t really go for the city.
Last summer  my close friend Mike returned home to Chicago after completing his master’s degree at UPenn. He lived in the city with his former Philadelphia roommate Matt who moved to Chicago for a summer internship. Along with my current roommate Liz, we celebrated many Sunday-Fun-Days; a routine of pizza & a movie [no matter how terrible…]. Unfortunately the summer came to an end. Matt returned to Philadelphia. Mike moved to NYC for a new job opportunity and to be closer to Aya [his lovely girlfriend, a dear friend and all-around sweetheart]. This trip would reunite three of us for the first time in months…
I arrived at Mike’s apartment in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn around 11pm on Friday night with a dead phone and an address sans apartment number written on a loose piece of paper floating somewhere in my backpack. The building showed no indication of which apartment was his, so I started buzzing each resident. Apparently there’s a young guy on third floor who will let anybody in after an ambiguous and feminine “Hey”. Fortunately after a brief and unsuccessful investigation, Matt [friend by way of Mike] entered the building with an entourage of UPenn grads. Worlds collided: NY, Philly & Chicago. Everyone was introduced and I started putting faces to names from many of Mike’s stories.
Though off to a late start, the evening was plenty full. The diverse group played catch up and got familiar while eating mac and cheese at Putnam’s Pub. Putnam’s is a hip, somewhat intimate neighborhood bar, probably less suited for the noise of our large group. After a handful of hours it seemed as if everyone was friends from the very beginning. From there, the crew continued to hang back at the apartment. People started to fall off one by one, retreating to their bedrooms or passing out on the couch until there were only a few of us left. Though I love and enjoy the comfort of my friends in Chicago, it’s easy to get lost in your usual social group. It was particularly satisfying to connect with strangers [friends of friends] and stand alone for a weekend.
The next day was hot, and the following even hotter. On Saturday, Michael, Aya and I trekked to Manhattan to walk around, more specifically to walk the High Line [“a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side”]. We walked. We snacked. We walked some more. By the evening, we were all exhausted with just enough energy for a sizable dinner back in Brooklyn followed by drinks in familiar locations. On Sunday we took a hint from the heat and caravanned to Fort Tilden Beach in Queens. As it was on somewhat of a whim we had minimal supplies…and I applied minimal sunscreen. After 25 years, I should know better. I couldn’t tell you the last time I was in the ocean, or when I’ll manage to get back. I reverted to my childhood as we surfed waves [the ocean still much larger than us...], played catch, snacked and lounged for hours.
We squeezed in what should have been a quick seaside meal before rushing back to Mike’s apartment. I showered quickly, attempting [and failing] to remove my fresh layer of sand before saying brief goodbyes. Arriving at the airport just in time, I boarded the plane bleach blonde and tomato red. This was my most comfortable trip to NYC. Perhaps the least overwhelming because it was my 4th time visiting, because I’m older, because of the company…I left looking forward to the next time I visit. As always, returning to Chicago everything picked up right where it left off.