The Weeklies: August 11 - 17
On Monday I got into line at a lunch spot and heard a man sigh loudly behind me.
"Gosh, I wonder what I'm going to order!" I turned, and it was Alistair, wearing a big smile. We work just a few blocks away from each other, but hardly have coincidentally run-ins. We laughed and shuffled our way through the line. At the register, Alistair smiled at the cashier: "We're on a date!" he said jokingly. The cashier smirked.
Before my Monday writing group meeting, I found a bench in the shadow of the Flatiron Building and sat down. It was beautiful weather out (and actually, beautiful weather persisted last week). I saw all sorts stop to take pictures of the building, to join a line for Shake Shack and spill out of Eataly. Watching people rush by made me feel like a rock in a current. I counted the weeks and realized two things: summer will be over soon and I would be in Scotland soon. Yes, indeed, by the time I return summer weather will be gone.
A few weeks ago my shrink prescribed me "more adventures." I told Alistair I wanted to ride bikes at the thrice-a-summer event called Summer Streets. The city shuts down one of the major north-to-south streets and people can walk and bike freely through it without cars. I'm too scared to ride a bike with the traffic, but it would be a totally new experience. I decided it fell within the boundaries of "adventure." Or even just a half-adventure.
Saturday we got up, took in a few episodes of "Love Island," and got the train to City Hall, where the event started. We rented Citi Bikes (a bike sharing service offered in the city) and pedaled north.
It was, in a word, amazing. To ride completely free with the buildings looming on all sides felt rare and magical. I recognized all my favorite places, the places I'd only seen as a pedestrian, float past me.
According to seasoned Summer Streets fans, the best part of the ride is when you approach Grand Central, then descend into the tunnel and arrive on the other side of Madison Avenue.
"There it is!" I said to Alistair as the MetLife Building loomed above us. We were going uphill, so it almost looked like a mirage. But, the hill was rough, and when we passed 39th Street and my legs started to feel like jelly, stars in my eyes. I had skipped lunch, thinking I'd be just fine. I wasn't. I pulled over to rest and squatted on the sidewalk.
"Are you going to throw up?" Alistair asked. I looked up at all the smiling riders cheering as they approached Grand Central.
"No," I said, putting my head down. "I'm just embarrassed."
So much for our adventure.
We parked our bikes and had a quick lunch nearby. I suggested we cheer ourselves up with a drink at my favorite secret rooftop bar. We got there, and it was closed for renovations.
That night we had cocktails on the stoop and I had a long call with Suni. Sunday, I wrapped up everything on my to-do list and barely left the couch.