“On Track, Off Track”
I jumped the gun a little early with the venture to Greenwich Village — leaving early enough in case the train had delays, getting off the train one stop too soon. As tempting as it is to say that this was purposeful, because I wanted to walk a long stretch of 6th Ave., it really wasn’t.
It is also pleasing that I didn’t choose to bring or wear sandals this trip. That would have been a mistake. However, the Converse weren’t a much better option. It’s a step-and-a-half away from walking barefooted.
The thought of knowing turned to doubt, and Tracy’s asking me of my whereabouts provoked a call by the time I hit Greenwich Ave. while en route to Tavern On Jane. Through the guidance of new friend Paula — Paula to Tracy to me — confidence was reestablished as my route was verified.
There was more of a panic in regard to making it on time rather than getting lost. Two-stepping it was the way to skedaddle. Aside having destination determination tunnel vision. Everything and everything seemed to slow down in comparison, so I slowed down as well. Just to get a better look.
The spirit store, Manley’s, sat near my destination. The lighting and curb appeal was able to embrace the best of all four seasons. A man stopped in front of one of the windows, peered in. Although it was later in the summer, I could see the change in his attire as the temperatures changed. Changing leaves floated around him. Snow flakes fell and collected.
The store could have been a toy shop or a clothing store or pet store with animals pawing the window. It could have been a jewelry store or a florist or a post office.
Greenwich at the moment, my first exposure to it, felt storybook.
“Her Name is Paula”
The woman with salt-and-peppered hair next to Tracy, Paula. She was in and around her early 70s, presuming, and currently lives in the nook of the city.
“If she’s been here for that long, her rent has to be practically nothing,” Mike, Tracy’s husband, said to me. It’s probably true. If she’s been around for that long, she’s staked her claim in the area. She has seen the ups and downs and odd and the decent.
It wasn’t always nice, she said. This wasn’t her exact words, but the statement and purpose was as to-the-point general.
She had a grandmother appeal, but it was uncertain if she had any. She didn’t bring up a husband, living or deceased. Her ring finger was bare. And there wasn’t any boasting of grandchildren.
She was a regular at the place, for certain. Both sides of the bar knew each other. It’s probably one method of survival at any age: To find that one place where you comfortably fit in and can retreat to if need be.
“Cramming for the Exam”
The brunette climbed the stool, and scooted the seat over to the edge of the bar. While she placed her purse on the bar top, she looked over at the door. To satisfy the onset of boredom, she brought out her phone and began to check her social media.
Moments passed. After she looked over at the door several times, she broke looked up an article about male first date etiquette. Clearly he was late, but he eventually showed up on time for an appearance. The button down shirt was disheveled, not tucked in.
Cue the greeting, which was accented with uncertainty. Cue the hug, that was embraced with awkwardness.
(I couldn’t imagine dating in The City.)
It’s a little strange meeting people you have known only from social media. However, social media does prove worthwhile when networking is done properly or unconsciously for that matter.
It was a couple years ago when our paths crossed, and I started following Tracy’s blog, “Tracy’s New York Life,” regularly. She’s a bit more professional with her writing than I am, and our topics coincided. Although I cannot relate to some of the fashion posts, what attracted me to reading was her tackling social aspects of New York.
Mike contributes now and again, but his professionalism dwells in construction.
Like Syracuse, there is that possibility to have paths cross, but sometimes it has to be catalyzed. Meet for coffee. Meet for spirits. It’s how connections are made. The four of us (Paula included) danced around several topics, but the point of the outing is to get out.
City life presents challenges, said Tracy. There is the opportunity to write more about whatever you’re writing about. There are more people to observe. The fact that there are countless others trying to do the same thing you are puts a lit match under your ass to keep going.
Syracuse life is a bit more laid back. If there is an instance where I come across another local blogger, I’ll definitely read them. However, if they significantly coincide, I’ll move around them in order to not step on their toes and to prevent them from stepping on mine, living almost symbiotically while trying to (cliche) reach for those stars.
In essence, I should realize that the rest of the world is doing the same. It’s easier to take note of what’s directly around you, the size of the community. For those lulls that I often come across here in Central New York, I need to keep telling myself the rest of the world is not sleeping.
Everyone wants to be noticed whether they admit it or not. They may even want to be noticed for being reclusive. J.D. Salinger did a fantastic job at that.
I’m not saying I’m meant to be this world recognized writer. I’m not, and I probably won’t. This is simply a passion that has to be kept going.
I’d probably lose my fucking mind if I didn’t.
Mike suggested that we go to this one pub that had basic burgers that sold themselves. I proceeded to tell him about The Blarney Stone, which is home of the (locally) famous Blarney Burger. Simplicity at an inexpensive cost never tasted so good. The neighborhood bar has the reputation, and the refurbished dive has made a name for itself as part of the Tipperary Hill community: The only place in the world with an upside-down traffic light.
However, the bartender offered to buy our next round, which was awfully kind of her. However, we felt obliged to now buy food from her. The food is satisfying. It’s nothing mind-blowing or culinary ingenuity, but it’s food that hit the spot. The medium-thick-cut fries were worth noting. The presentation of the food: The restaurant felt as if I was not in a larger city. This was the Greenwich charm sinking in, not the pints of Bronx Pale Ale — the beer is worth noting as well.
Paula had left by then and a gent took her spot. I don’t remember his name, and he joined in on conversation. I ended up running into him two days later in Madison Square Park, near the shake shack. I was going to get a shake before catching “The Weir,” but the line was out to Brooklyn. The guy didn’t recognize me. I’m just some stranger nodding and saying hey and asking how it was going.
It was great breaking bread with the couple. It was good to put faces — actual faces, not pictures — to the names. And should they decide to venture upstate, I’d gladly be as cordial.
The trip to the nearest subway wasn’t as long. As we passed Manley’s, it sat quietly and seemingly more romantically lit.
Off to Greenpoint I went.