Friday, September 08, 2006

The Laborious Apple

twas quite glorious. i loved my long Labor Day weekend this year, which i protracted into four full days in new york city, where i caught up with my west coasters turned east coasters, staying mainly with my best friend and his boyfriend in Manhattan, in the heart of Soho, Little Italy to be exact, in the smallest apartment i’ve ever seen, with just four feet of kitchen space and the fridge in the living room. but since they’re gay, the apartment was well decorated, with a perfect balance of style and whimsy, as evidenced by the gaggle of rubber duckies perched in the bathroom, which i found too cute.

new york was still splendidly itself – whatever that means. to me, it means that life in new york is still twice as hard and three times as expensive as it should be. to me, it means the entire city still smells like ass, particularly the subway. each time i exited the labyrinth that is the new york city subway system, now in existence for 100-plus years, i wanted to loofah the muck off of my hands and face immediately. that cavernous underground reminded me of an ant farm-cum-germ factory, with us passengers as the ants and the germs.

no misunderstanding: i am not a new york hater (nor am i a lover). i think the secret to living in new york is loving new york. i understand the romanticism and intrigue of the city and immensely enjoy my visits there. but as a nearly native west coaster who will defend los angeles until her last breath, i will confess that i don’t fully get it.

i don’t get the big deal with the five boroughs, or what it means to be from long island, or the appeal of the hamptons, or why new jersey is the armpit of america, or why bostonians hate new yorkers. the idea of blue blood and JAPpiness is anathema to me. visiting the east coast, with its oppressive summertime humidity and strangely small states, only strengthens my love for california. and i don’t even surf.

not that i didn’t have a brilliant time during this visit, catching up with many of the fantastic friends i saw during the last go-round: jon-david, allison, nick, cesar, zahra and als. (no john john this time, but hopefully next time.) the food was also worth beholding – oysters on the half shell, sardines wrapped in grape leaves, Portuguese bacalhau, a Tunisian omelet -- with plenty of wine to wash it down. it rained only on saturday, prompting an afternoon viewing of “Little Miss Sunshine” that did much to chase the clouds away.

i did a bit of shopping as well, though most of my time was spent socializing with my peeps, sharing and hearing stories, and marveling at how negligible time and distance are in the face of solid friendship. they played the most congenial hosts and i relished every second of their company. i hope to make my visits annual from this point forward.

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