Awesome, Or Something Else

This sign wins the Best Sign of the Day award.

My vacation has been absolutely memorable for several reasons already; the least of which was the flight. I would like to take this moment to personal thank you mysterious airplane panel that required replacement. You know who you are – the same airplane panel that apparently could only be replaced after AirCanada decided to board our plane knowing full well that the panel needed to be replaced (I know this because I overheard the engineers discussing the replacement and delay prior to boarding). We, the passengers, loved sitting in a stuffy plane for a full 40 minute delay only to have our patience rewarded with a 30 minute follow-up delay. And then another 15 minute delay. And if that weren’t enough, the icing on the cake was a final further 10 minute delay. Total time to NYC – over 3 hours. Good gravy.

But don’t get me wrong – I appreciate that AirCanada took the time to fix the plane. I’d rather not explode or disintegrate before I have a vacation.

And ultimately, Aidan and I made it to New York. The city is, as always, amazing. Our first day found us wondering around a lot. I would guess that between random stops for food and drink, we walked 20+ km. We walked from our hotel (On The Avenue) at 77th and Broadway, down to 30th, and back. And then, for giggles, we did it again. It was cold and a little windy, but the city was vibrant and walking is the best way in my humble opinion to check it out, especially when one – such as Aidan – has never seen it before. Our walkabout found us in Central Park, on Lexington and on Park Avenues; we checked out the stores on 5th Avenue; explored the decorations and mayhem of the Christmas masses at Macy’s; we found ourselves in Rockafeller Centre admiring the giant Christmas tree (something that I’ve never been able to see lit up on any of my previous trips – in a word – beautiful); we checked out the Library, Times Square, Grand Central Station, the Lincoln Centre, and so many other places; and we stumbled on many tiny Christmas markets that reminded me a little of the markets we found in Germany, minus the booze-y Glühwein of course.

In short, we walked a lot.

30 Rock + Christmas lights = Beautiful

Monday morning we casually sauntered about again. Of course, this time we had a purpose; Arlene was coming to town. We met her at the bus station at 41st and 8th – a stone’s throw from Times Square. From there we just started walking; through Central park, and up to about 110th and 5th. We stopped twice – first at a Christmas store so that I could search for a tacky Christmas ornament, and second at a small cafe for some much-needed food and drink. We managed to see a lot of the city, but really it was all about chatting with Arlene. We caught up on as much as we could; her new home, her kids, my new job, my defence. It was fantastic.

Of course, walking as much as we did clearly works up a thirst. Thus, after jumping on the subway we made our way down to Prince street with the intention of wetting our whistles, followed by some shopping.

Shopping never happened.

Instead, we found the Brooklyn Brewery – a gem of a pub with a fantastic selection of beer. The bartender – I forget her name – was knowledgable, and entertaining on a level I was not expecting. The banter between her and the regulars was absolutely enjoyable to listen to. And before long, we were included. That due in part to the fact that my brother and I love meeting and chatting with new people, but mostly it was due to a regular who went by the name of Brian Moran; a retired paper delivery man who worked for The Daily News for some 30+ years; a man with an extensive knowledge of music and poetry; and an all around excellent person.

Sexy bitches. 'Nuff said.

We stayed in the bar for several hours chatting and laughing, hearing stories of his youth, about New York, about everything and nothing at all. He asked us about our lives, where we’ve been, what we’ve done, what makes us happy. He demanded I not wear my toque in the bar (a gentleman never wears a hat indoors), and insisted I not use the word awesome to describe anything unless I was actually in awe of it. Instead, he suggested I use the phrase Awesome, or something else. He was, as he self-described, the real New York. And I couldn’t agree more.

At some point I had to say goodbye to Arlene. While we didn’t get in the shopping we had expected, we still had a fantastic day; definitely not one I’ll soon forget. You see, after dropping Arlene off to catch her bus, Aidan and I returned to meet up with Brian as he had graciously invited us back to his place for drinks, to tell us more stories, to listen to music, to play the guitar, and to enjoy a smoke or two. All this, plus a lot of laughter. I can’t even begin to describe how fantastic the night was. Between the beer and the smoke, the music, and the guitar playing, the house itself seemed to add an air of old-time-y-ness that I can’t explain. He told us of his life, his friends, the art he had collected (and it is an extensive collection), his vinyl, his family and so much more. And he continually sang us songs and asked us about our lives. When his roommate Brianna arrived, the two of them began belting out Joni Mitchell songs. Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Anyway, after many incredible hours shared with Brian and Brianna, Aidan and I left exceedingly happy and ever thankful for such an amazing experience.

Thank you New York. Thank you Brianna. But most of all, thank you Brian. You are an incredible individual, and I’m so happy that I was able to meet you.

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