Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Missed Connections

We didn't miss any connections this weekend. My (direct) flights with the kids to NYC and back went as scheduled, although it took me two and a half hours to get us to the airport over snowy rural 2-lane roads (normally it's an hour-long drive), and when we got back we had to shovel nine inches of snow off our driveway in the dark before we could get the car up it.

In between we had delightful urban adventures that quite fully restored my soul for coping with the rest of this snowy rural winter. It's snowing so hard this morning that the kids' school is canceled and I didn't even try to make my commute.

We started the weekend on Friday about 9 pm with a celebratory drink in the lobby of the New York Hilton (I had a "Big Apple" which is their name for an appletini), where we were watching the people go by: booted and fur-coated women, men in dark suits, and NCAA teams in matching tracksuits.

Saturday morning we met some friends for breakfast at the Carnegie Deli. Although we were warned to expect surly NYC service, the staff were all exceedingly friendly, which kind of disappointed Eleanor. (At 16, she wants to visit a place where everyone wears dark colors and gives each other dark looks.) The food was excellent, and there were literal piles of it; although all of us are enthusiastic about breakfast, hardly anyone could finish.

We took the subway up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we spent some very agreeable hours wandering around exclaiming over wonders until we reached that point you always reach in a museum where you walk past yet another wonder only half-seeing it, looking for a place to sit down. At that point, we had lunch in a cafe looking out onto Cleopatra's Needle in Central Park. Then we posed with some statues (a good way to feel the emotion of sculpture) and said goodbye to our friends underneath an enormous vase of real, blooming cherry blossoms.

We had dinner at the Russian Tea Room (where I met an unembarrassed bulemic in the restroom) and walked down to look at Times Square before seeing Phantom of the Opera (the second time for Ron and me, but first time for the kids).

Sunday morning we walked up to the Museum of Modern Art, right around the corner from our hotel. We giggled at some of the most modern pieces (a cloth womb with udder you could go inside; Walker and I did), made sounds of revulsion looking at a fur-covered cup, saucer and spoon, glazed our eyes over looking at a special exhibit of Monet's water lilies followed by lots of Picassos and two Magrittes, and then got a second wind in the Tim Burton exhibit, which had funny figures and pieces from the movies, so everyone felt more crowded in there, but less reverent.

We had no adventures in the airports or on the plane, which made us feel very lucky. We have no stories like Sherman Alexie's to tell:

Missed Connections (at the Santa Barbara Airport)

Descending, in our forty-seat airplane,
I saw an older man had parked his car
At the edge of the runway. He waved
At us, so I waved, but we were too far

Apart to see each other, and he was not
Welcoming me anyway. Near the back
Of the plane, a woman, hair in a knot,
Clutching a tattered Vintage paperback,

Waved and smiled and hugged her seatmate.
"That's my husband," she said. "I haven't seen
Him in ten years. It's so great, it's so great."
She shook and wept; it was quite a scene--

A mystery--and I was hungry to know
Why a wife and husband had lived apart
For a decade. I wanted to ask, but no,
I decided to imagine the parts

They'd been playing: She was the Red Cross
Nurse who'd been kidnapped by militant
Rebels, then blindfolded and marched across
The border, but he'd remained diligent

For ten epic years, pressuring despots
And presidents, until the March dawn
When Australian tourists spotted
Her staggering across a Thai hotel lawn.

Starved and weak, she fell into their arms.
"I've been released," she said. "I've been released."
Traded for ammunition and small arms,
And treated for malnutrition and disease,

She was only now, six weeks after rescue,
Reuniting with her husband. She was first
Off the airplane--we all gave her the room--
And she, aching with a different thirst,

Burst through the security gates
And rushed into her husband's embrace.
Later, after they had gone, as I waited
For my bags, I saw a friendly face--

A young woman who'd just witnessed
What I'd witnessed. I wiped away tears.
"Ten years," I said. "I'd die from the stress."
"Oh no," she said. "It wasn't ten years.

It was ten days." Jesus, I had misheard
The old woman and created glory
Out of the ordinary. Just one word,
Misplaced, turned a true and brief story

Into a myth. And yes, it was lovely
To see how the long-in-love can stay
In love. But who truly gets that lonely
After only ten days away?

I thought I had witnessed an epic--
A Santa Barbara elderly Odyssey--
But it was something more simplistic.
It was a love story, small and silly,

And this is cruel, but here's my confession:
Depending on the weather or my mood,
I'll repeat the myth because it's more impressive
Than something as clear and bright as the truth.

And here's my confession, too; tomorrow will be the thirty year anniversary of our own long-in-love story, and we were as happy to be reunited Friday night (after being apart since Wednesday morning) as ever.

Now it looks like we'll be home for a while, watching it snow. Are you getting lots of snow? How are you coping?


FreshHell said...

Happy Anniversary. You are very lucky. You know my snow story.

edj3 said...

Oh happy anniversary, and congrats to you both. I loved your account of NYC and do tell Eleanor that if she longs for dark clothed people who shoot you dark looks then Boston is the city for her :P

Jeanne said...

Tomorrow is not our wedding anniversary, but the anniversary of the night we, um, fell in love.

Sounds like FreshHell needed an urban adventure too! And we're going to have to take Eleanor to Boston one of these days. I haven't been since the 1980s.

Unknown said...

First: congrats on the anniversary! That's really wonderful.

Second: Thanks for posting that poem -- its absolutely fantastic, and I've *been* there. Not exactly there, but close enough. The more I read about/by Sherman Alexie, the more I know I need to read.

Harriet said...

It sounds like we just missed each other in New York. No adventures for me either, but only because I flew home early to avoid the snowstorm I'm now in the middle of.

Jeanne said...

Kiirsten, So far I've liked Alexie's poems best, but I haven't read very much by him.

Harriet, that's our tradition, isn't it? To miss each other but get very close to do it?

Lass. said...

Happy Anniversary!

Kristen said...

It sounds like you had a great time in NYC. I haven't been there since I was Eleanor's age. Someday though, I might wander back.

Amanda said...

I love those pictures. :)

Jodie said...

Congratulations on 30 years, quite a wonderful achievement. I looks like you had a fab time away, liked your description of reaching that point during museum wandering - makes you feel so guilty though doesn't it, like you're not appreciative enough.

Jeanne said...

Jodie, I don't feel guilty about the mental overload (eyes glazing over) because when I lived near Washington D.C. (1983 to 1990) we learned to do the Smithsonian museums in small bits. And we tried not to laugh when people came to see us and asked to see "The Smithsonian" in one afternoon.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Sounds like a fabulous trip; I want to go back to NYC so badly!

And, I live in Santa Barbara so loved the Sherman Alexie story!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great trip.

Actually, I sort of think there's something more impressive about missing someone so much after 10 days than 10 years.


And congratulations!

bermudaonion said...

What a wonderful way to spend the weekend. I could get lost in the Met for days.

edj3 said...

BTW anniversaries != weddings. Just sayin'

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Happy anniversary and what a lovely vacation. I have been to a few places where I was promised surliness and didn't get much in the way of it. I think that I am okay with that.

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