Remember my good-intentioned ambition to make note each day of things I like about NYC in effort to remind myself just why I live here? Me neither. But yesterday I realized I was about to finish a very good day and noted it out loud. Because I find myself frequently saying "This was a bad day" or "I've had a hard week" or "The last four years have been generally not good" (I only said this maybe twice, and only really meant it once) and decided I would try, for a change, discussing my good day.
What I Did Rode my bike in the morning to Chelsea, where I met Ben, and we biked way uptown, with the goal of riding over the George Washington Bridge. We had a long, leisurely ride, waylaid but briefly when I got a ridculous flat tire on a steep hill. I say ridiculous because by the time I realized I had a flat, the tire tube had somehow escaped the wheel and tire and entirely wrapped itself around the frame of the bike. I have never seen anything like it. A very friendly biker who was suspiciously unsweaty and whose longish hair was suprisingly mane-like for having biked in from New Jersey, stopped and helped us (okay, fine, helped Ben) get the tire extricated with the use of his handy pliers. (There is a "women's bike repair" class that meets once a week on Houston. Why don't I go to this? If Ben hadn't been with me, I may have idiotically sat down on the side of the path and wept helplessly. I am going to go to that class.)
We walked our bikes into Hamilton Heights, a very lovely section of Harlem, where the guy at the health food store had a large stack of business cards for nearby Manny's Bike Shop -- evidently I am not the first person to emerge from the path at 181st Street with a flat. Manny made quick and cheap work of the flat and off we went, over the Bridge. I've never ridden over before and it was almost exhilarating. A little hazy, and some women yelled "SINGLE FILE!!!!!" when we were riding out of the line, but there were trees and rocky cliffs and the Hudson and you could see the Empire State Building down there somewhere in the grey distance.
We rode back and tried to find a park in Inwood that a guy had told us about in the health food store, but instead ended up in Fort Tryon Park, which is where the Cloisters are. I'd never been there either, and Ben and I sat in the park for several hours, trying to recount the plots of Shakespeare plays. We did a pretty good job. I feel robbed that because of the "special" Modern Studies program I was in in the English department in college I was exempt from the English major Shakespeare requirement in which you read a play a week. So I've never read Othello, I'm much shakier on my characters and "What did Yorick's skull signify?" type of questions than Ben, who took the class. We also attempted to recite Shakespearean sonnets but were very bad at that.
We rode back down to this very no-frills outdoor restaurant around 100th Street in Riverside Park and had dinner outside overlooking the river. I was filthy. Like my hands were black and my face was really sweaty and my hair, my hair that I just got cut in attempt to make it look something like Rachel Weisz's in My Blueberry Nights, was full of city-crap. My skin had grit on it.
(I admit this is not the first time I have desired to imitate Rachel Weisz. And I'm not generally the sort of person who brings a photo of an actress to her hairdresser. That's not true. About a year and a half ago I brought a photo of Mary Tyler Moore from '70s to him and tried to get my hair to look like hers. About six months ago I read she was wearing a wig for the entire run of the show.)
Why It Was Good It was on the ride back that I said to Ben "This has been a good day." He agreed, but wasn't excited as I was to have actually had a good day that had virtually nothing bad in it. I then became nervous that I would crash my bike or come home to a stressful email or be struck by lightning before midnight, but none of these things happened. I saw many sailors in town for Fleet Week, and thought about that Sex and the City episode and also wondered if anyone else finds it confusing that the Marines are called "the Marines" when their job is not marine-based.
People like to say that New York is the best on holiday weekends because everyone leaves and the real, die-hard New Yorkers (or those of us without Hamptons houses) have the city to themselves. This was not the case at the track in the East River Park, where I went to run today. I remember now why I hate to run there on weekends -- there are soccer games going on in the middle of the track and people just sort of hang out in the shade and play auxiliary soccer games and roughhouse and roll all over the track at the shady ends which makes it a not-very-relaxing run. But I wanted to know my exact distance, so I went there and nearly turned an ankle about 40 times, almost tripping on various balls, Coleman coolers and small children. It's about 400 degrees on the track by the East River. Why must the East Side be so dreary compared to the lovely Hudson River Park? Why must my feet feel weirdly run-over-by-a-truck after a moderate run? Why so hot?
The real reason, by the way, that NYC is better on a holiday weekend is NO CONSTRUCTION. For a few days, no 6:45am Armageddon. At least in my backyard.