when you are a regular wanderer

Everyone has a “lost in Manhattan” story… That’s what they tell me, anyway, and it’s meant to be some consolation.

I wasn’t exactly lost last night, but I don’t exactly mind when I am. Most people regard wandering as accidental and unfortunate – because accidents shouldn’t happen on the regular unless your life is Amelia Bedelia (ahem).

I am a regular wanderer and last night my wandering footsteps were chasing the colors in the leaves and the warm light hidden on the horizon. After work, I blitzkrieged my friends to see if anyone wanted to suck the marrow out of the autumn day and several responded. So, I said yes to plans in Manhattan and yes to plans in Brooklyn with more optimism than is New York appropriate.

I ended up at Madison Square Garden on quite the transit detour on the A (where I sat beside a tired looking middle-aged cosmetic surgeon who had obviously had work done on his cheekbones). I heard about his 14 hour work day and his second home in Conneticut and his 3 day work week. After a few loop-de-loops and train hops, I successfully toasted Oktoberfest beers with Ashley on the High Line, where we giggled at the people gathered for stargazing. We wanted to say, “We’ll save you the trouble: you can see about five, but there is a star-studded blanket beyond these city lights that is very visible from Iowa.”

From there, I navigated another underground maze to catch a train back to Brooklyn. Except I didn’t look at the sign on the train I ran down the stairs to catch.

After I sat down in a huff, a curly haired hipster smiled and said, “Well, that’s the most graceful near-miss if I’ve ever seen one.” I kind of just sighed and said, “Yeah… now to head home.” But as I said it, I looked up to realize I was on the wrong train headed in the wrong direction.

“This train isn’t going to Brooklyn, is it?”
I could tell he wished he had better news, “Nope.”

So, I scooted out and caught another flying metal bullet to meet up with group number two in Brooklyn at Alice’s Arbor, where the wine was already poured and a girls night was underway. After the right amount of laughter and story swapping and dessert devouring, we parted ways and I waited for yet another train to see Patrick and marvel, blurry-eyed, at the thoughtful gifts he brought back from Europe.

And THAT, friends, is how you stretch a day from 5:30 am – 2:00 am. Start unnecessarily early to catch the Autumn waking up on Eastern Parkway and then let the day roll out in front of you until you’ve tucked it in on the other end.

That is how it’s done in NYC, at least by this Amelia Bedelia character. Say yes to things, chase autumn to pieces, sit on park benches, wait for trains, take the wrong trains, laugh at misfortune, and always be willing to toast.

That’s how yesterday went down for this regular wanderer.
Today, I’ll turn in early.

coming home in a stranger’s clothes

Being a little less like Amelia just isn’t in the cards for me, I don’t think. Definitely not if I come home wearing a stranger’s clothes, which is what happened last night.

I left my apartment freshly dressed in (what I thought was) light rain attire and quickly learned that my 10 block walk to the church community group would be a very wet adventure.

After about block #2, I realized my shoes were squishing. After block #5, I ducked into an open apartment building doorway and had a one-way conversation with a nice man waiting for the rain to pass. I explained my options: forge on and arrive at a stranger’s house looking like a wet dog or return to my apartment looking like a wet dog without failing a first impression. He seemed to have no opinion either way, so of course I forged ahead, leaving him to laugh in the doorway.

Every bit of me was soaked, from my hooded head to my size six feet. My hair was matted down and my pants had turned a deeper green color. When I got to the house, I apologized instead of introduced myself because I knew I looked frightful. Before I knew it, I was changed into a nice woman’s clothes and munching on vegan chocolate blueberry biscotti on her sofa and listening to her tell their NYC relocation story.

My clothes never did dry, so I wore the nice woman’s clothes back home and made myself a saucepan of hot water (no teapot yet) and some ginseng green tea while I spread out the rain shower I had soaked up in my garments.

Oh, I am ever so grateful for Christian community – where no one is really a stranger and a dry change of clothes is only one knock away! It’s Christian community that keeps Amelia’s like myself clothed and safe. I suppose it takes many invisible miracles to keep my clumsy feet from slipping in this city and for that I am very grateful.

I’ll return the clothes soon and have another reason to knock on that door on Sterling Street. We won’t be strangers anymore (I mean, how can we after sharing closets?) and that has just added three more names to my very slim NYC rolodex.

Now, about getting that wisdom, maybe one can come by it on a round about path. Maybe “getting” wisdom can look like meeting strangers and rain walking and couch conversations, too.