Friday, June 24, 2011

Swinging Summer Schemes!

I was reviewing my calendar the other day and realized that the next opening in my social schedule is August 1st! I mean, no joke. Either I'm wildly popular, excessively ADD, ridiculously involved, or maybe just continuing to truly enjoy my NYC life. I'm fond of the latter explanation - regardless of whether it makes me feel like I'm burning the candle from both ends and will ultimately face a brick wall (the one I slam into from exhaustion....for those who know my incident with my bike and "the fence" from last week, you'll know I didn't win.) But the question is what am I up to that I'm SO busy? Well, let me give you a few recent highlights.

High is the key word for our escapade two weekends ago - high off the side of a platform harnessed in and suddenly swinging in the wind overlooking the Hudson while flipping my body around a slender metal rod. I'd been invited to do one of the things on my perpetual list of "Around Town To Do's" (see right sidebar): Trapeze Class! When the question was posed whether I'd consider such an adventure, the only acceptable response was a solid "Obviously!" My partner in crime cleverly omitted that he'd done this before so I was alone in my novice stature, slightly thrilled and somewhat horrified at the prospect of swinging through the air. We were instructed as to proper form and guided through the steps we would be asked to accomplish once atop the platform. Once our order was decided, we lined up and one by one ascended the very long step ladder to the top of the platform.

Despite having a harness seriously cinched around my waist, the maneuvering from the top of the step ladder to my ready position on the platform sent my heart rate soaring. I avoided looking down and instead concentrated on the commands from the instructors. Hold the platform bar with your left hand, extend your right hand and grab the trapeze bar, push your pelvis out while keeping your shoulders back, now grab the trapeze bar with your left hand, bend your knees, and GO! Flying through the air, I listened intently to the cues for moving to a knee hang to an extended body swing and ultimately a back somersault off the bar. Somewhere my body recalled many years of gymnastics and surprisingly made the whole experience a lot more graceful than I expected. The most amazing part of the whole experience besides who I shared it with were the two tiny little girls (ages 5 and 8) that were flipping around at a level way beyond the rest of us. Oh to be that little and that lithe!

The following weekend's festivities were not so dramatic - my mom came to visit! I showed her Eataly, we saw the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met, wandered down Madison (including a jaunt in the new Milly flagship store...i.e. preppy mecca), sauntered up the newly opened phase 2 of the High Line, saw a not so fabulous Broadway show ("The House of Blue Leaves" - despite a cast of Edie Falco, Ben Stiller and Jennifer Jason Leigh AND Harvey Keitel sitting next to us, we were beyond apathetic.)

My Broadway appetite was redeemed this week with Bobby Cannavale's phenomenal performance in "Mother F______ with The Hat" also staring Chris Rock. Brilliantly hilarious. And up in two weeks is the Tony winning "Normal Heart", which I have heard is a stunner. Can't wait! So many more fun activities await on the if only I could get some overdue shut eye in between to ensure full enjoyment. Oh well, as someone very sage said today, "We can sleep when we're dead!" Touche my friend.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Nature Jaunts

After mother nature apparently thrust summer upon us last week without more than a day of Spring, I was preparing for a long summer of frizzy hair, overheating, and of course, elbow sweat. That being said, this past weekend actually brought a phenomenal reprieve from the humidity and a totally temperate climate. Mid-70's, no we say, they were San Diego days!

On Saturday, I took the CAAD 9 to the road and headed up to Nyack for my first 9W jaunt of the season. It was awesome, even though I was missing my favorite riding partner due to a recent tumble off her bike. But I cruised up listening to some great tunes and blatantly trying to beat every person I encountered on the road. Sometimes I was successful, others not so much. But a group of male riders did approach me at the Spoon (our typical snack stop in Nyack) to compliment my strength. My reaction: outwardly embarrassed, secretly fist pumping. Obviously.
Atop Bull Hill looking south over the Hudson

The outdoor enjoyment was rounded out on Sunday with a trip up to Cold Spring for a hike with great friends that recently moved back here from Mexico City. It was so great to see them after months of trying to connect. Per a friend's instructions, we parked in Cold Spring and walked down Fair Street to 9D where the trail head began. Not having any preconceived notion of where we wanted to go, we grabbed a trail map (there's a box offering maps that works on the honor system - you grab one, use it for your hike and return it after - not a gesture you see that often anymore.) We picked a color that corresponded with the Bull Hill hike and traipsed up and down the mountain enjoying amazing panoramas of the Hudson from the top, a stroll through an old quarry, and the hike down past the remnants of an old estate. No hike is complete without a post-hike replenishing meal and cold beer so we grabbed a table at the Cold Spring Depot where we were entertained by a charming, if not slightly geriatric, group of gentlemen playing jazzy tunes and singing old time melodies. Sated with our burgers and brews, we chatted while enjoying our surroundings.

On the train back to the city, I intended to read (currently reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" for book club), but I was tired from the hike and instead enjoyed the view of the Hudson rushing past as I headed back to my urban mecca. It is supposed to get up to the 90's this week (eek!) but knowing escapes to nature are only a bike, train, or car ride away help me get through. Now if only I could figure out how to get daily car service (with major AC) to shuttle me around town. Hmm...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Road Tripping to Manchester, VT

The old in LA (Middle School pictures are too cruel to post)
A few weekends ago I hit the road with a friend that I've known since I was ten years old. We were classmates in middle school, roommates in college, lived together in Los Angeles, and then went our separate ways - she to Colorado and me to San Diego and now New York. Distance brought it's challenges along with life changes as she got married (I was a bridesmaid) and our social lives kept us from catching up consistently, let alone spending quality one on one time together. So our road trip to Manchester, VT from NYC for our other roommate from college's wedding was such a cathartic re-grouping, almost a salvage of 22 years of friendship that had been covered in a layer of dust obscuring the plethora of adventures, disasters, tears, laughter, amazingly awful hair and braces, all the things only your very closest and longest friends can know about you. And sometimes your friendships need that reprieve - they need the breathing room - so you can find just you and then reintroduce that person to the ones that are closest. I've now experienced this with both of my best friends and I'm certain our friendships are stronger for that reprieve.

NOT Grave Digger
The impetus for the road trip led us to the charming town of Manchester, Vermont. It's about a four hour drive from New York and quite a picturesque jaunt through darling little towns like Husick ("You sick?!" was our joke) and Buskirk ("What a buskirk" the other); maybe we'd been in the car too long but these had us in hysterics. That and the maroon Volvo station wagon that was lifted on what appeared to be monster truck wheels dragging a trailer. I mean, I'm sorry your mom handed you the grocery grabber but thinking it will now compete with Grave Digger is a whole other plight you have certainly not accomplished. But thank you whomever you are for the entertainment. Tears were shed.

Arriving in Manchester was such a treat - a charming town with beautiful buildings, the renowned Equinox Resort and Spa, Historic Hildene - a picturesque Lincoln family property where the wedding took place, beautiful back drop of mountains with hiking and fly fishing, and the gamut of outlet stores. If only I'd had time to shop! The rehearsal dinner was chock full of laughs at the expense of the groom and heartfelt stories about the bride (we all knew better than to poke fun or share secrets - karma is not pleasant) followed by a welcome cocktail party with tons of old and new friends. Many of us were staying at the Inn at Willow Pond where our gracious hosts had the bar opened and ready for us to party it up during the wedding weekend. It couldn't have been a better venue - low key with an indoor bar and an outdoor bonfire - options appealing to everyone.

From Freshman Besties to Grown Ladies
Rain had plagued us all weekend and we were all prepared with the back up plan should it pour before the ceremony. As luck would have it the rain and clouds in the morning cleared and sun shone down upon us while we did pictures and even still as the guests arrived. The procession began and we all took our places at the end of the lawn overlooking the gorgeous valley. It was beautiful. The bride entered with her father - she looked ravishing, he looked dapper (his first time in a tux to boot!) And the ceremony the darkest, most ominous clouds rolled in our direction. Calm was retained and Brad, the officiant, continued. And then the drops started to fall. Our trusty driver who escorted us to Hildene ran back and forth from the main house toting umbrellas for the pivotal characters (bride and groom, mother of the bride, bridesmaids, etc.)

A beautiful start to the ceremony

And the rain became a deluge soaking the less fortunate guests including the beautiful mother of the groom. The groomsmen were like sentinels, remaining at their perch while being hammered by the pelting rain. It certainly showed dedication to their friend the groom - I was quite impressed as I huddled with the 5 bridesmaids under one umbrella. You couldn't have wrenched that umbrella from my dead hands - there was no way I was getting soaked! The ceremony was curtailed but vows were accomplished (albeit in a shortened version) and everyone ran to the cocktail tent. Towels, fans and hair dryers were summoned and everyone collected themselves and passed the champagne. Through it all, the bride and groom remained calm and focused on one another, enjoying the moment and appreciating the experience. Rain is, after all, good luck for a marriage. And in that quantity, they are going to be SUPER lucky!

Champagne seemed to get everyone warmed up and in the spirit to party. Once we descended upon the reception tent for dinner, speeches and dancing, Brad decided an impromptu re-do of the vows was appropriate. This time under the protection of a tent, all of us watched while C & C exchanged their vows, this time much more calmly and carefully, and were pronounced husband and wife.
The vows revisited

Hours of non-stop dancing, photo booth visits, hamming it up for the camera man, and Long Trail Pale Ales later, we retired back to Willow Pond, continuing the party and enjoyment with the guests. Honestly I haven't had that much fun at a wedding in a long time. And certainly a huge component was getting to spend the weekend with such dear friends, reliving moments from college - particularly from freshman year with TTT/B and KZB/F (and Donna's blondies), and making new friends and memories along the way.

The weekend ended back in NYC just me and TTB exploring some of my favorite haunts and enjoying our last few hours together on our own. Who knows the next time it will just be us - no husbands or kids or dogs. Just two friends who share more than could ever be articulated in this blog. Here's to those special people in all of our lives and the perpetual impression they have on who we were, who we are, and who we become.