Thursday, August 19, 2004

I am here. I now live in NYC. Flew into LaGuardia yesterday around 3:30 pm. Lucy dropped me off and it was heartbreaking. That all I can say. Heartbreaking. I don't mean to underplay the emotional aspect of it but I don't think I've quite processed it yet. At LGA, I picked up my bag and my luggage claim ticket wasn't checked. Welcome to NYC. Into a cab driven by a man who spoke into a dangling cellphone mike; his voice/language was melodious, and so was the language/voice of the woman on the other end. I spent a few minutes imagining that the other voice is his wife, and he's so smitten with her that he must spend every minute of the day talking to her. In reality, it's probably his lawyer trying to get his out of a pedophilia charge. But, hell, the whole conversation possessed a mellifluous tone so what do I care, right?

The entire contents of my old apartment were/was here when I climbed the four flights to my new place: the movers had come earlier that afternoon, at least a week before their estimated delivery time so Jason had to oversee the whole move. He's a good, contentious fellow so I knew he'd make sure all was correct; however, I hate shunting that kind of stuff off on other people. It couldn't be helped by the eager drawing table-wrecking, picture glass-breaking, chest of drawer-denting movers at MiniMoves. Upon arriving, I got the bookcases in the proper position in the proper room; boxes were shifted and organized, the bedframe was snapped together, and the mattress and box spring tossed upon it. Then Alex arrived and he and Jason sipped some bourbon and had a few squares while I showered.

The doorbell rang and--as we were expecting Alex's wife and her sister--we sent Alex down. Luckily, it turned out to be the UPS guy with the box of extra crap I had sent myself from Chicago so Alex was stuck with carrying that back up four flights of stairs. Ah, that was terrific.

After Katie and Julie arrived--and after we had a few more cocktails--we made our way over to El Boqueron. Heather was there, sipping a glass of white wine, and after some chit chat we began a meal of epic proportions. Dozens of plates of tapas, four pitches of sangria, two entrees--a seafood combo in green sauce and filet mignon--consumed by six upright jackals. Jason has taken me to El Boqueron every single time I've hit the city and each meal is exponentially better than the last. In fact, each course keeps getting better than the previous one...it's like you're climbing to the moon on food at this place.

Up early this morning and began the unpacking and organization of the boxes of books which constituted the majority of my good moved. I culled the hell out of the books--casting off probably 50 pounds of various paperbacks--but I couldn't lose any of the art books. Any reading book I have I can most likely find again at the library or by sifting through used books online; but the art books tend to be one of a kind thing, catalogs from various exhibitions that soon go out of print when the show closes. I can't get rid of them. So they're unpack and ordered, as are the CDs. Also, the clothes unboxed, shelved and hanged.

Jason took me out for a quick walking tour of the neighborhood, pointing out butcher shops, dollar stores, fish markets, laundries, fruit stands, bodegas, etc.; damn, it's fine having a tour guide who's lived in the neighborhood for seven or eight years. This mode of shopping will take some getting used to, certainly. Living only two blocks from a Trader Joe's spoiled me rotten...now I've got actually hustle up some food. Though, I guess I walked a fair spot most days for my daily needs.

After the walking tour, we stopped in the Bistro 311 for some unbelievably good and mind-meltingly cheap lunch. I got a spicy seafood soup with a seaweed salad...both profoundly delicious...and that was less than $10 total. In fact, the most expensive thing we ordered was the dessert, a banana crepe with vanilla ice cream for $5. Unbelievable.

Jason left for work and I finally plowed through the remained of the boxes and then walked out to the aforementioned stores and got some groceries.

I should probably talk about Tuesday, my last night in Chicago. It was spend with Leah, Marlene and Baby. I can fairly say they were the core of my family in Chicago. Leah invited us over to the SuperLoft for a round of drinks and appetizers before Marlene and Baby and I split off for a meal at Wishbone. (Leah and FK were going to see Diana Krall at the Auditorium.) We sat of the roof and talked and watched a lightning storm roll in from the south, and the storm was preceded by, oddly, a plague of potato bugs; they were crawling all over our shirt, getting snagged in our hair. (I am sure that's not the right name for them--potato bugs--but that's what my mom called them when I was a kid; however, I secretly categorized them as green ladybugs since they're about the same size, though more streamline, and display black lines instead of dots.) Inside, the tomato and mozzarella was server, the tomatoes courtesy of one of the painters working on the SuperLoft. As we milled about, I could see a huge fire burning directly north of us somewhere in the city; I found out later that it was a fire to a house in Lincoln Park, on Wilton, which shut down the Brown/Red lines for a few hours. Anyway, Lucy was our waitress and we were a bit stuffed from Leah's appetizers, so we ordered light (if that's possible at Wishbone) and downed everything with a few glasses of champagne. Afterward, was an slightly emotional goodbye with Marlene and Baby in front of the building. Marlene was the heart of Chicago for me, the one person who defined love and hospitality and comfort.

I had breakfast with Leah and Lucy. Lucy was in good form, charming and funny and beautiful.

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