In June 2013, I went to New York for a few days. I played tourist in NYC for a couple of days, then headed to the Stony Brook/Port Jefferson area of Long Island to help my family watch my cousin get married.
Things that went well: NYC is still a great city. I stayed in the Woodside area of Queens. It's not exactly Jackson Heights, but it's close enough; I was near the 7 elevated line and the accompanying restaurant-aganza. I visited with Tom Manshreck, who was back at work after a few months' travel. He talked about traveling to India, being tailed by secret police when he walked around Bangalore with an enormous beard after a bombing.
Things that went less well: I still wilt in hot, muggy weather. Instead of jauntily strolling around, I slouched about while hoping that a storm would break to chase away the heat. (Thus, for my first few seconds of getting rained off of the Highline, my first thoughts were "Yay!" instead of "Oh man, could I have picked anyplace more exposed?".) I ended each NYC day as kind of a grumbly sweaty puddle.
I rode the LIRR out to Port Jefferson. (In typical naive-tourist fashion, I underestimated the scale of LI and LIRR at first. When I first flew in, I caught a LIRR train from JFK airport to my hotel in Woodside except I assumed that a "little" train like LIRR wouldn't have any express trains, and I thus caught a train past Woodside out to Penn Station. Kids, Long Island is pretty long; LIRR is serious business. Check your destination signs and don't assume stuff.)
I had the bright idea of strolling through Port Jefferson and Stony Brook to see a bit of LI town life before getting caught up in family stuff. This started out promising; downtown Port Jeff has it goin' on:
…but overall, these were suburban towns. I soon found myself walking among small houses on big lots. Soon I found myself asking Google Maps for shortcuts to skip the loops of my originally-planned stroll.
I almost missed the wedding. The excellent organizers chartered a shuttle to take folks from the hotel to the church; however, by the time I found out the shuttle's departure time, it had already left. Fortunately, when I pled a ride from some well-dressed folks in the lobby, they turned out to be heading wedding-wards.
Giancarlo gave me a ride. He was a friend of my cousin Eric from school. Strangely, he wasn't an economist. He was a community college teacher. He taught Italian language and a class like film-theory, but for television. In recent years, fewer students had been signing up for Italian; more had been interested in learning to understand TV.
At the church, I got to see some relatives that I hadn't met in several years; others that I'd seen more recently than that but not recently enough. It was good times. The wedding officiants sang much of the ceremony.
My relatives were there. If you're one of my relatives, you might find these photos fascinating. (I didn't take the one with me in it. My cousin Kathy took that one. Thank you, Kathy.)
There was regular-dancing and line-dancing. Things were pretty merry if you were a dancer. I snuck out early with some not-so-dancers.
At breakfast the next morning, there was not so much dancing, but I could hear folks over the music (since there was no music). So it was a good chance to talk with my relatives some more. Life in the FTC sounds weird, man.
I tried walking around Queens, but wimped out. The merest hint of a sprinkle of rain sent me scurrying for cover. (Did I mention how much I got rained on on the Highline? Anyhow.) In the end, I just walked a few miles along the street by the elevated tracks, figuring that I could run for a train station in case of a downpour. But there was no downpour; in hindsight, I could have tried seeing some new neighborhoods. Oh well.
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