Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Overdue Post From the U.S. - New York City and A Trip Down Memory Lane

I don't know where the time has gone!  I've been neglecting the blog while soaking up time with family and enjoying down time in the U.S., though it hasn't felt too leisurely because we are trying to get a lot done in a relatively short period of time.  There doesn't ever seem to be enough time on our trips back to the States!

After a tortuous, delayed flight out of Hong Kong, I landed in JFK late night in silence.  The airport was completely empty - I was the first person out of the plane and the first person through customs and security.  I think I whizzed out of the airport in twenty minutes or so - truly a record. I guess that's what happens when you land on the night of July 4, when everyone else is at a barbecue or the beach!

The first orders of business upon our return was hanging out with my parents and aunt and uncle, who are visiting from Taiwan.  Michael and I also drove into the city on one day to run some errands.  Along the way, we saw this decal ("fueled by hate") on the side of a car.  Really, America?
But we also saw stunning skylines.  Ah, it's hard not to feel a stirring in my heart every time I lay eyes on NYC.
 I had to pop in to work for a little bit, and managed to capture this pretty picture.  The blue skies and white puffy clouds are just amazing!
I also went to a dinner event with my sister at Gramercy Tavern.  The restaurant was just as beautifully appointed as ever, but I found the food a bit lacking this time.  We went for their seasonal tasting menu, and I found some of their pairings odd and inconsistent. 
Michael and I stayed at the Soho Grand for one night, and they gave us a stunning corner room with views over Tribeca.  We had a really nice view of the freedom tower.  The view on the other side wasn't as sweet - just the weird jumble of streets leading up to the Holland tunnel.
The littlest things intrigue me now - like the amazing buffet spread at any bodega or deli you walk into.  I got a breakfast egg and cheese on a roll, a huge carton of fruit, and green juice here.  If only we had one of these in Hong Kong.

I then took a leisurely stroll the streets from Soho Grand through Soho, to Prune in the East Village, where I met my friend Amy for brunch.  My contentment level was high.
Along the way, I walked past Michael's old apartment, which he lived in in those early, heady days when we first met and were getting to know each other.  It was an amazing apartment, and we have so many good memories here and of that time.
 This is the second place we went to on our first date  - it was called something else back then, though.
 Our old favorites, agozar! and Von and think coffee, all still remain.
 Prune looked and felt the same as ever (it's amazing how long restaurants exist in this city!  I find it so comforting on my return trips), except that we were so incredibly lucky and didn't have to wait for a seat.
They are Bloody Mary connoisseurs (an entire menu of them!) and I opted for their fresh squeezed tomato juice with sea salt.
 I ordered their coddled eggs with a side of bibb salad in the most amazing, garlicky, lemony vinaigrette.
 On our way back to Long Island, we stopped at my childhood home in Bayside, Queens.  I lived in this house until I was nine.  The house looks so small now!  The door is different, the huge pine tree has been cut down, and there are no longer pots of flowers on the stoop.  I still remember the layout of this house, and the backyard, very clearly.  We had a Greek family to our right and an old lady who made the most amazing Christmas cookie platter every year to our left.
 At the corner, there was a huge lumber yard (long gone and now replaced by a BMW car dealership), and across the street there was a police station and, right next to that, a public library. 
 I spent a lot of time at that public library. 
 The White Castle still remains (!) after all of these years.  I have never set foot inside.
 Just down the block is the elementary school that I went to - it still has the huge, soaring windows that I remember.  The teachers all had long wooden poles in their classrooms which were used to open and close these windows.

They've made the "playground" a little nicer now.  When I was there, it was just ugly blacktop with no areas to sit, no ball courts, nothing.  Kind of like a jail yard, except for little kids.
 Finally, we hit up the last spot of my childhood - the Burger King where I would go play on their slides.  I shudder now to think of all the sugary soda and french fries I was allowed to eat while scampering around on the slides.  I often had a Burger King paper crown perched on my head as I whiled away hours coming up with adventures on my own.  Once, according to my parents, my grandpa, who was visiting me from Taiwan, didn't want to go and told me that it burned down.  Placating him, I said we should just go for a walk.  Taking him on another route, I managed to get us to Burger King, and triumphantly shouted, "it's still there!" 
 I can't believe it's still here, over 30 years later.  The toys and slides look a lot more sophisticated, though the overall room remains unchanged.  Those windows, yikes!
We then had a big dim sum meal in Flushing before Michael and I headed out to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
The place was packed, but we got our own VIP room, without any wait, courtesy of our family friends who are well connected in the Flushing dim sum world!  That was nice.

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