Adios, Spanish Harlem

Our Tito Puente stairwell. Can you see the top?  Neither can we when we return from a day of trotting the concrete.  But it does offset the caloric intake which is substantial.

Here we are playing the parking game.  This is our limited understanding of it:  On Mondays and Thursdays the north side of the street gets swept and all cars must be moved between 9:30 and 11:00 am. On Tuesday and Friday, the south side is swept and cars moved same hours.  With me so far?  Ok, so after much observing we realized that what people do is double park on the non-sweeping side, wait in the car or at least close by, for the sweeper and/or 11:00 to come and then it’s a free-for-all to get the available spots.  There’s a delicate art to it and when you succeed you feel you have won a minor skirmish with the Metro Transit Authority.  This day, we did.  However, note to self:
The MTA got us in the end.  This is what happens when you forget to fold your mirrors in when you do win the parking game and score the plum spot. Between this and a midday 30-minute struggle with the keys unlocking the three locks for Apt 3A, just a tad, just a tiny tad, of the bloom was off the rose. Alabama, and one optional lock on a front door, whistled a bar of “Sweet Home” in my ear.

So we decided to souvenir shop for the kids.  Success in Harlem which increasingly feels like home in our wide subway line wanderings.  We limped off the 6 train this eve at 110th street feeling like we were with our people.

Say what you want about the man, he knows how to turn on the AC when he punches in in the morning at his tower on 5th Ave.  A coffee in front of the pink marble fountain helped us tap the reserve tank for the last neighborhood we wanted to cover – Greenwich Village.  But the picture-taking slacked off because the reserve tank was low too.

Carbs for the final stretch.

ashington Square was packed with people and street performers including one who painted himself gold and stood absolutely still on a pillar like a greek statue.  I was too tired to take a pic.  Above Andrew rests his aching feet and we listen to the poor guy to our right pour out his heart while his girl paints her toenails black and looks far more interested in them than in him.  Muy mal.

Tito Puente at 2nd Ave is quiet this morning.  Ricardo Steak House across the avenue is rolled down and sleeping after a hopping Friday night.  All the dapper gents who eased in its doors for steak and the party are barely stirring. The street fair is still, its vendors drinking coffee and planning when to shuck the corn for corn-on-a-stick.

And Andrew and I straighten up our sweet digs and hum “Big wheels keep on turning, carry me home to see my kin, singing songs about the Southland . . .”

NYC Cheers The Empty Nest Blues – Day One

ur third-floor walk up in Spanish Harlem.

ow to get bag and baggage to the third floor

l mercado en el barrio

aiting for the M15 South bus

n Brooklyn Bridge

Telling his Wall Street broker to sell! sell! sell!
(And getting a report from home about Will’s stitches)

imes Square contemplation

ypical cell phone-obsessed NY tourist

There Is A Rose In Spanish Harlem (Me!)

We have always said that the day we take our youngest child to college we will not come right home that first night. Awash in nostalgia, we would wipe our tears, turn north to New York City, and drown our sorrows in exotic cuisine and art exhibits and parks and architecture and layers of history until we find that we are perfectly fine and content being Siegenthaler, party of 2, once again.

Well, two things about that.

In His goodness, the Lord ordained that our nest won’t be empty after all. My niece Erica is going to live with us for a while and work and study here.  And we are most glad. We weren’t really ready for empty nest anyway.  And, second, my new business dictates that I be home for a class early the next morning after I make Will’s dorm bed in Belz Hall and leave him under his own recognizance.

So, as Robert Burns said, the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley, and the NYC transition plan seemed to be ganging agley.

But by God’s grace it is going to happen, just a little early – today! Hooray for an early-August lull before the school year starts.  And for an Airbnb “third floor walk-up. Will that be a problem?”  Not at all, I scoff from my one-level rancher. And hooray that our lair is in Spanish Harlem on a street called Tito Puente. Allow me to romanticize it.  And for the Manhattos Indians and the early Dutch settlers and every homeless, tempest-toss’d immigrant yearning to breathe free! Right now, my children are really glad they aren’t going with us.  I’m unbearable when it comes to the grand human story.

Our plans include the following, quite out of order:

*Walking our feet to bloody nubs
*A walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and a tenement-appreciation moment; that chapter of NY history slays me
*Biking through Central Park
*Dining in Queens with Ben and Kim Kaufmann, true food connoisseurs
*Amateur Night At The Apollo in Harlem – you’re jealous over this one, aren’t you?
*Freedom Tower and the Memorial Pools of the World Trade Center
*The Museum of the City of New York
*MoMA- photography exhibit
*Shopping at Century 21; Andrew for sunglasses and me for a new school bag (CCS co-workers, I finally threw out the tattered pink polka-dot one with no rubber left on the wheels)
*Browsing some antique shops and finding a little piece of the city to take home
*The Highline – thanks to Will Hogue for this pearl!
*Columbia University, St. John the Divine, Riverside Church and its tall tower and view
*Greenwich Village literary hotspots and Washington Square
*Abyssinian Baptist, Harlem YMCA, The Cotton Club
*Pizza in Staten Island with the Baldinis – Hey, y’all!  DeNino’s for “The Garbage Can”?
*Book stores, ethnic food, and coffee better than we can make at home which is saying something
*Subway and bus lines
*People-watching, picture-taking, blogging it all in
*Post cards from the bodega
*Another week of Andrew’s beard growth for the general amusement of Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church
*Time to talk and laugh and read and think and sleep a little
*Return quenched with cool urban cultures and glad to be back in time to take Will to college and to welcome Erica to our favorite little town

In short, a leisurely, knockabout week.  🙂
And if you don’t think we can accomplish all this, 
then you don’t know Andrew.