Revisiting places from one’s past is a powerful and sometimes poignant reminder of the turning of the years. Returning to New York four or five years ago, after a 17-year absence, was such a time, as was last weekend, when I traveled to the city and brought along my fifteen-year-old son, James. I combined attending Vogue Knitting Live with spending time with my son and showing him a bit of Manhattan.
Late on a Friday afternoon, we flew out of Charlotte. When we arrived at Laguardia and waited outside in the dark for a bus to the city, a young woman from Georgia and I began to chat. After we’d boarded the bus and rode for a bit, for some inexplicable reason, the driver told everyone to disembark in Harlem (not the scheduled last stop for this bus). The pretty red-headed woman I’d met, who is an art teacher, tagged along with James and me to look for a subway station, as she asserted, “We Southern girls need to stick together!” I have been living in the South for far too long! I thought, taken aback a bit. I’d never been called a “Southern girl” or “southerner” for that matter and have always been aware of my status as a Yankee and an outsider when I’ve found myself in the thick of southern culture.
Despite 24 years of living in the South, however, I felt quite at home in the city, as I’d worked there for five years after college and had spent my teens years exploring the city where I’d frequently visited my father, who’d lived in Greenwich Village at the time. After boarding the subway and taking a short ride, James and I, wheeled suitcases in tow, ran the gauntlet that is Times Square (think circus combined with Disneyworld) and checked into the Marriot Marquis. I’d bought tickets for an improv show that night at a theater in the East Village. James and I had dinner at a British pub named Cock and Bull (where I particularly enjoyed the black-eyed pea salad) and then rode the subway downtown to the Upright Citizens Brigade theater. I was a little uneasy about what sort of outlandish environment I’d be exposing my born-and-raised-in-Carolina son to in the East Village, but the audience in the small theater seemed to be comprised mostly of young professionals and while the show, with its line-up of comedians interspersed with improv skits by the three hosts, did contain some off-color humor, it was witty and no less shocking than anything on network TV.
The next morning, I took advantage of the fact that my teen-aged son, if left to his own devices, will sleep till well past noon and spent a few hours at the Vogue Knitting Live marketplace. I bought a kit from Wooly Wonka for the Into theWoods Cowl and also purchased a Yarnit ball holder and a small hand-held yarn winder (from yarnvalet) but that was the extent of my purchases, whose cost amounted to less than $100. Not bad, considering two floors of temptation beckoned me. Of course, the entire time I shopped, I was aware that I had to feed a six-foot-two teenager in Manhattan (an expensive proposition) and couldn’t live on granola bars and one meal a day, as I’d done on my previous visits to Vogue Knitting Live.
|I couldn't resist this braid of Finnulgarn yarn in the kit for the Into the Woods Cowl.|
Around 1:00 that first day, James and I grabbed hot dogs from a vendor (a small snack for my son) and headed for a walk downtown, on a surprisingly balmy day (48-50 degrees) for this time of year. We walked as far as Little Italy, where James and I shared a wood-fired pizza at La Bella Vita and then took a cab to Macy’s, where James bought a jacket, as he had neglected to pack one (teenagers have different notions about temperature and comfort). That night, we had dinner at a sports bar, the West End Bar and Grill, and headed to a performance of The Book of Mormon. Definitely off-color and irreverent, the show did, however, present a phenomenal display of talent and witty writing. James surprised me by asking me if we could go to Sardi’s after the show (he’d heard about this New York theater district fixture somewhere), and I was happy to oblige. We each had a dessert and soaked in the atmosphere—white tablecloths, red-jacketed waiters, caricatures on the walls, and a sense that the décor hadn’t changed since the 1950s. I remembered going there with my father and was struck with the sense of how a place can stand still, while the people change at an alarming rate.
|I attempted to sneak this picture of James in Little Italy. He caught me and didn't want his picture taken!|
The next day, while James slept off our busy Saturday, I had a morning class with Amy Singer, entitled Plug + Play Lace Shawl Design. Even though I was tired, I was able to start planning my own triangular lace shawl and left the class inspired, but wishing for more time to work on my own designs. After the class, James and I had lunch at Irish Pub, Emmett O’Lunney's (my restaurant choices were based on providing ample teen sustenance, rather than personal preferences), and then James and I took a cab uptown to the Metropolitan Museum, where we explored the Egyptian wing and the Arms and Armor display. I visited the Costume Institute, where an exhibit of clothing from the style icon Countess Jacqueline de Ribes was on display, but didn’t linger, as I didn’t want to have James remind me for the rest of my life of how I’d tortured him at the Met. It was difficult, however, to maintain a Carolina boy’s interest in the museum, when he saw that it was snowing outside. A walk in the flurries for ten blocks or so along Central Park made for the perfect New York moment.
|The American Wing provides an inside-outside experience.|
|Central Park is romantic in the snow.|
That evening, James and I attended another Broadway show, The School of Rock. Lots of kids and teens made up the audience, one which proved to be a bit unruly before the curtain opened, but settled down once the show began. While not as witty and biting as The Book of Mormon, the cast with many children who sang, danced, acted, and played musical instruments did a phenomenal job. After the show, at a pizza place near Times Square, I purchased three slices, two bottles of water, and a min-bottle of wine ($5.99) to take back to the room, and the total was 41 dollars! Talk about gouging tourists!
|The view from our room at the Marriott was impressive.|
The temperature dropped on Monday, but James and I headed off for a morning stroll to Rockefeller Center, and then it was back to the hotel to check out, store our bags at the bell hop stand, and meet an old friend of mine, from my college days in the 1980s. At Café Un Deux Trois, we caught up a bit, and he and James became acquainted. Sitting in this roomy French bistro with its sunny windows and sparkling chandeliers while sipping good coffee and eating a salmon crepe was food for the spirit before heading back to the real world—grabbing a cab to Laguardia, waiting for a delayed flight, returning home to go to bed before nine, and heading out for school before 6 a.m. the next day! I hope my get-away sustains me through the coming semester, with its new students and inevitable challenges and uncertainties. I am certain, however, in my thankfulness for the opportunity to show my son a bit of my past and leave him with his own memories.
|StevenBe's booth was filled with people and enticing yarns, such as these skeins from Hedgehog Fibers.|
|Steven Berg of StevenBe talks with a shopper.|
|Jeremy Smith of StephenBe graciously posed for a picture for me.|
|There were lots of opportunities for yarn sampling.|
|Attending Vogue Knitting Live is like going to a huge fair, only better!|
|One of the vendors (I think he's from The Verdant Gryphon) pulls out on Sunday. |