Because it was a fair schlep into New York City, if I was going to do it with the Blooms then Sunday was the logical day to do it. By late Saturday I'd finally gotten in touch with sandramort and Ysenda. I'd been reminscing to the Blooms about the dim sum we'd had in Philadelphia two years ago -- there aren't many places in Emerald City that serve dim sum, and Lut wasn't impressed the one time we went. There are, naturally, many great places to have dim sum in NYC.
So the plan was to go to dim sum on Sunday morning and meet Sandy there. After breakfast, garyamort and their kids might join us at a children's museum. (Gary and the kids are all vegetarians, and almost all the dishes at the dim sum place we'd picked -- the Golden Dragon, I think -- had some meat in them, so it would have been awkward to feed them there.) In the evening, I would meet Ysenda for dinner, with a number of Blooms between 0 and 3 joining us. During the drive into the city, the number of Blooms joining Ysenda and me for dinner was set at one and specified as Vicki, since Bard had gotten to go to dinner with Kalakh and me the night before.
We got to the Golden Dragon a little early, and went across the street to browse a Chinese candy store, which featured treats like dried chile-flavored squid and salted bits of mango. We sampled quite a lot and bought a few things.
Sandy showed up a little late and completely out of breath, having gotten directions to the wrong street. (Something like going to 4th Street instead of East 4th Street.)
It was awesome to see her again. Sandy was my roommate for two years during college and put me up for several months at her apartment in Troy, after I left Wright State University and before I moved to Emerald City. I hadn't realized quite how much I missed hanging out with her until I got to do it again. Now, writing this, I miss her more than ever. :(
The dim sum was as good as promised, and I gorged on pork buns and sticky rice. Mmmm. After eating, we decided on the Central Park Zoo instead of a museum, with Gary and the kids to join us there.
We wandered off to the zoo. I had packed my camera for the trip to NY, but it never made it out of the suitcase, alas. I did take some crummy pictures of polar bears and wolves on my cell phone camera. Haven't even looked at those yet. Mostly, I used the zoo as an excuse to corner Sandy and catch up. We talked about life and old friends and recent events and mailing lists and all kinds of stuff. And ate Dippin' Dots ice cream, prompting me to quote krud42: "If Dippin' Dots is the ice cream of the future, what a joyless, miserable place the future will be." (It wasn't even actual Dippin' Dots -- it was some clone brand in the same style and equally overpriced.)
After a while, we left the main zoo to meet Gary & co., who were now arriving and going to be outside the Children's Zoo next to the main one. Since it was fairly late in the day, Gary decided to wait outside and save the admission price. Going from a ratio of four adults to one child to one of four adults to four children briefly overwhelmed our stalwart party, but we rallied back in good order. =) There were a bunch of animals in the petting zoo, and being too cheap to buy food (actually, I didn't have any change on me) for them, I amused myself picking up pellets dropped by richer people and offering those to the goats, sheep, llamas and whatnot. At 4:30, Bard took Rhys and went home. Shortly after this, Eva claimed me to go on a tour of whatever sights she'd missed the first time through. The Children's Zoo is very small (we only had an hour and it was still more than enough time to see everything) but we wsearched diligently for any nooks we hadn't looked in yet. Eva asked me to do all the kid attractions with her, like crawling into the model turtle shells and pretending to swim, or pretending to hatch out of the giant eggshells. We rounded out the day with me pretending to be fly tied up in the zoos giant spiderweb, while Raffi and Eva were spiders intent on devouring me.
Which was great, because I'd wanted to do all those things anyway but would've felt too silly doing them as a grown-up by myself.
One thing that amazes me about children is how much nicer they seem to me now than they did when I was one. I'm the exact opposite of people who grumble about "kids today!" From my perspective, the current generation is far more pleasant and good-natured than the little monsters I grew up with (and I do not exempt myself from the category of 'little monsters', either; I distinctly recall being a whiny ill-mannered brat.) I've met enough children as an adult now that I'm pretty sure this is as much the benefit of adulthood as it is due to the particular children I've had the pleasure of hanging out with.
See, the great thing about children is that they almost automatically think any adult is Cool, and pretty much all I need to do to maintain my status as Cool is pay attention to them. It helps if I engage in other activities that they ask me to, as well, but the key thing seems less doing any specific thing than to do something that includes them.
Come to think of it, this works on most adults, too.
We left the zoo with the kids paired with their chosen adults: Eva (Sandy's oldest at 8) took me, Raffi (5) picked Vicki, and David (he's about 2) stuck with his mother. We met up with Gary and wandered out to the park to while away an hour or so until Vicki and I were to meet Ysenda. There was a huge rock formation a little way down one of the paths, and the kids soon decided to climb all over up. There was the easy way (up the back, which was a gentle slope), the hard way (up the front, which was fairly steep) and the very hard way (along one side, where the rock was almost vertical but still had some footholds). Eva opted for the hard way up and the easy way down on the first pass, with me following her (and carrying her backpack, because I am a sucker). Then she decided to do the very hard way. Which, frankly, I found scary myself and I'm 8" taller than she is. She got very nearly to the top and then panicked, poor girl. She didn't want help getting up, she didn't want help getting down, she didn't want to do either by herself. Gary and I discussed the merits of her living right where she was until she got taller and could climb the rest of the way on her own with more confidence. :)
Eventually, Daddy Power triumphed and Gary carried her down in his arms, avoiding the necessity of bringing her meals to her in Central Park for the next few years. Eva was an interesting combination of good-humored and upset throughout -- more the former than the latter, I thought. "I can't tell if she's brave but pretending to be scared or scared but pretending to be brave," I said to Sandy.
"She really is scared," her mother said. "She's very determined about facing her fears, though."
Eva reclaimed me at this point for a game whose rules involved doing whatever Eva wanted. We picked flowers for a while, then walked for a bit, then ran until Eva realized I could outrun her (all that exercise pays off at last!), then walked a bit more.
Then Raffi and Vicki ran up behind us and tagged us. "We were having a race," Vicki said, "and you were the finish line."
Raffi suggested that the kids swap adults at this point. Eva was at first reluctant to give me up, but warmed to the idea as she realized it meant getting a *new* adult to play with.
So I got to play with Raffi for a while, too. We picked more flowers, played a game akin to Calvinball with a beat up soccer ball that one of the people at the park lent to Raffi -- it was a nice day, if somewhat hot, and the park was full of people -- and raced to another rock formation. It was quite a lot of fun, in fact.
Recalling this makes me wish I had as good a memory for conversation as for events. I'll often remember things I've physically done in great detail, but have a hard time reconstructing conversations unless I do it within a day or two of the event.
Eventually Sandy and Gary caught up to us, and we got to chat a little more with them before Vicki and I said goodbye and made our way off to meet Ysenda.
We told Ysenda we'd meet her at the entrance to the zoo, which soon led to a discussion between Vicki and I over which entrance Ysenda would think we meant. There's a big impressive gateway-looking thing that opens onto Central Park on one side, and a small stairway that opens onto the street on another. We guessed the street entrance, based on Vicki's experience as a New Yorker, and were right. We win! Our prize: one Ysenda.
We spent some time on a park bench by the entrance just chatting New York City stuff. I commented on a new pair of glasses Ysenda was were wearing, which turned out to be antique frames she'd gotten from a NYC shop that sells a large variety of eclectic eyewear. Ysenda works at the Museum of Natural History (must go see that next time I'm in town), and Vicki had worked there as a teen, so they compared stories about it. Vicki and Ysenda found quite a lot to talk about, which was very cool -- sometimes I worry when introducing friends that they won't have much in common.
We decided to get Indian food for dinner, and to go to a neighborhood Ysenda knew where there were bunches of Indian restuarants. It was a couple miles away; we briefly discussed walking (I was game!) but opted to take the subway. At the subway station, I insisted on walking around to find a place to sit. Vicki started to laugh at me for saying I was willing to walk two miles but then being unwilling to stand while I waited for the train. I explained that I fnd walking much more comfortable than standing still. "So even if we don't find a seat, walking around to look for one is still a win." And I learned that Ysenda also finds walking easier than standing. I'm not the only one!
Taking the subway with a native guide is pleasantly simple; I just followed Ysenda and Vicki and, presto, a short while later we arrived at our destination. After a couple of detours into interesting-looking stores, anyway. I didn't actually buy anything in NYC this time, other than food.
We selected our restaurant based on the menu hung outside (it had a promising-looking special) and the waiter inviting passerbys to come in.
The restaurant was a peculiar combination of excellent food (I don't think we had any leftovers, and I was mopping up sauces from the platters with the remaining bread) and appalling service. The place wasn't busy, but the waitress was exceedingly slow and much of the food was brought out lukewarm. (Yet still tasty, happily.) I don't think I've ever had such good food and left a crummy tip before. But we had a good time talking and eating, and I didn't mind the delay.
I would have liked to go dancing while I was in the city and with people who like to dance, but none of us were dressed for it and it was getting late. And none of us were sure when the last train to Westchester on a Sunday night ran. With some regrets, we headed off to Central Station (which is also easy to navigate with a native guide. I should bring a native guide with me on all my NYC trips). After a brief debate over whether to catch the soon-to-depart local train that went not quite as far as the express 45 minutes later, we settled on the local.
On the train back to Westchester, I gave first Lut and then koogrr a call, and Vicki talked to lediva on her phone. Afterwards, Vicki and I snuggled for the rest of the trip and talked about the joys (and attendant difficulties) of polyamory. :)
We caught a cab from the train station -- even if Bard had still been up, Rhys was long since in bed and Bard wouldn't've been able to leave him to come get us -- and made it home a little before midnight. We promptly crashed.