Fire

So this crazy thing happened on Thursday afternoon: our apartment building caught fire.

(I don’t even know how to continue from that. I suppose I’ll start at the beginning.)

Our landlord had come over because we had a couple questions and he was helping us fix a few things in the apartment. We were having a really good time getting to know each other. He had brought his dog Gumbo, who was adorable and a bit rambunctious, and we had just said goodbye. I was just settling back into working when I heard a knock on my door. It was our landlord again, and he said, “Can you hold my dog? The building’s on fire.”

I grabbed Gumbo’s leash as he raced upstairs, then I got my purse and headed outside. Sure enough, something on the roof was on fire! We live in a brick building but there are these two wooden structures on top, and one of those was burning.

Everything is a blur now; it all happened so fast. I heard fire engines coming, and a crowd gathered. Soon enough, the street was blocked off, and there were six or seven fire trucks and at least 30 firefighters. One of them hooked a truck up to the hydrant in front of our building; another was taping off an area and dispersing crowds. I stood with a few other residents as we watched the structure burn. The hook and ladder went up and firefighters climbed up on the roof. The black smoke started turning white, but it took a long time for the fire to go out completely. A big portion of the structure was lost completely, but the fire was stopped before it reached the roof or anything else.

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I have so many thoughts surrounding all of this. They too seem to be jumbled. I’m just going to list them here – they probably won’t be in much of an order.

First, I have an endless list of words floating in my head when I think about the men and women who spend their lives fighting fires – the first of which is grateful. They saved our home. Without them, I don’t know what would have happened. Other words that come to mind are brave, selfless, insane. I don’t know how they run into flames when the rest of us are running away from them. I am so glad that we live so close to a fire station and am just incredibly impressed by their caring and courageous acts. I look at them with such respect, and I have a new understanding and appreciation whenever I see a fire truck or ambulance racing down the street.

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Another thought: I’ve done fire drills so many times and in so many different capacities throughout my life. But when there’s actually a fire, it’s a completely different sensation and feeling. I’m impressed with myself that I had the sensibility to grab my purse; I did not, however, manage to grab my keys before leaving. And my phone wasn’t ready for a disaster: it only had 9% battery life when I left our apartment. I should be more prepared in the future.

Also, there’s something so vulnerable about seeing your home on fire. We feel so lucky that it was on the roof, that the building wasn’t severely damaged, that we live on the first floor and the fire (or even the residual water or smoke damage) didn’t make it down to us. But there was definitely a moment, as I was standing on the corner watching our building burn, when I realized we didn’t have anywhere else to go should the fire reach our apartment. All of our physical possessions would be gone, and we wouldn’t have anywhere to live. That thought hits you pretty hard in the face of a disaster.

We got so lucky with all of this. When we were allowed back into the building a short time later, our apartment looked like nothing had happened. The lights that I’d left on were still lit; the TV was even still on. It smelled vaguely of smoke, but nothing serious had happened. The only sign that there was a fire was that our patio/balcony/little outside area was now covered in ash and little pieces of charred wood. We even had friends over that night for dinner, just like we were planning to. Now, a couple days later, there appears to be no water damage to our unit. The one inconvenience is that the water heater is out; I’ve finagled a method to bathe that involves boiling water on the stove, but it takes a long time and is a little labor-intensive. (Crazy how easy it is to take warm water for granted, eh?) Hopefully it will be up and running soon.

I don’t know how to end this post either (I guess this is a piece where I really haven’t known much). Mostly I just hope I never experience something like this again, but that I’m grateful that it ended pretty well considering what could have happened.

Ode to My Taco

This is going to be a short post, but I just wanted to write a quick ode to my taco.

(I can hear the confusion now.) Erm, what? Your… taco?

That’s right, ladies and gents: my taco. And I’m not talking about some delicious concoction I whipped up in the kitchen or purchased from a street cart in Mexico; I’m in fact referring to my chair.

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I’ve had this puppy since high school. I got it as a Christmas present from Santa (I think in my junior or senior year?) and it’s been a part of my life ever since. It’s seen me at my best and my worst. I’ve slept in this thing on more than one occasion. It’s so perfectly comfortable and easy to curl up in. I’ve read many a book, watched many a movie, and written many a blog post in it. And when it’s folded up, it’s shaped like a taco!

When we were living in Seattle, there wasn’t really a good place to put it. It didn’t quite fit with our decor (though it was in the same color scheme) and we just couldn’t find a way to make it work. So it remained folded up in our (giant) closet for two whole years, coming out only once or twice when the mood struck me and I just had to sit in it.

And I think a little part of me was really sad about that. I longed for its cushiony ways, for the days that I spent reading in it or surfing the web or studying. But try as we might, the taco and our living room just weren’t friends, so in the closet it remained.

Then came time to move to New York. I got rid of a whole bunch of stuff, but I couldn’t bear to part with my taco. I knew it was completely unreasonable to bring it with me; if there wasn’t room in Seattle, there surely wouldn’t be room in New York. But when we got here and set everything up, I realized there was a perfect spot for it! I transformed a corner of our living room into a reading nook, with my taco taking center stage.

I’m writing now from it. Just sitting here makes me so happy. I’ve made so many memories here, mostly by myself, but in a way, this chair feels like home to me. It’s not particularly pretty or even very grown-up, but it’s mine. So thanks, taco. I appreciate you always having my back. Here’s to more years of comfort and friendship.

Summer Weekend in New York

This weekend. Ohmygoodness, this weekend.

I kept getting the “I can’t believe we live here” moments. Clearly I’m still not 100% adapted to NYC life, but this city is just so amazing, so big, so beautiful. I have such a love for it and I’m so excited that we live here now.

Friday night we went to a friend’s birthday party. It was on the roof of a building in Hell’s Kitchen, and the view was out of this world! We were looking toward midtown from the north, so there were skyscrapers galore. And you could see light just radiating from Times Square. I’m still blown away. We had lots of fun celebrating our friend’s birthday and we met a lot of other cool people – it was a really good time!

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We laid low during the day on Saturday. I slept a lot because I’m recovering from another cold. I feel like my body’s trying to build up immunity to this city, because I’ve already been sick twice since moving here… meh. But I still love New York! Anyway, I spent more than a fair bit of time sleeping until it was evening, when we ventured north near Riverbank State Park for a get-together at Davis’ coworker’s apartments. I had a lovely time getting to know the cool people he works with and eating delicious Greek food. There was this one dessert – I think it was called “galaktoboureko” – that was so incredible, it was like I was eating sweet air. (I just remembered that they sent us home with some – I may indulge after I finish this post.) And one of the women there had the most interesting stories! She lived in Italy for two years, so we spent some time talking about everything Italian. She even spoke Italian to me and I could understand what she was saying! I think once we’re more settled here I want to find a language partner or group or class so I can keep learning.

This morning we woke up and got ready to get our 1920s on! We had gotten tickets to the Jazz Age Lawn Party (http://www.jazzagelawnparty.com/), which is a huge celebration of everything 1920s-related. They had gramophone exhibitions, they had hats and suspenders for sale, they had two jazz dance floors and a place to take a picture with a paper moon. I outfitted myself in a purple flapper dress, sparkly headband, and pearls. Davis had gotten suspenders and a pipe just for the occasion. The party took place on Governor’s Island, so we rode the subway and took a ferry in our cool ensemble. We made friends on our journey and ran into an old classmate of mine, then met up with my friend Lauren and her roommate Meghan to spend the day with. I had packed a picnic, so we ate cheese and sandwiches and grapes and prosciutto and felt very classy. We danced and oogled at the fantastic costumes of others. There was this one woman who looked almost like Jane from Tarzan, it was so cool! And lots of people had very detailed flapper outfits. Then, out of nowhere, it started to pour! Before then it had been rather hot and humid, so the coolness of the rain was welcome, but the wetness was not! It was actually rather hilarious to watch everyone run for cover. We cowered under the parasols that Meghan and Lauren brought. Once the rain was gone, the fun began again. Davis bought a pair of 1920s-themed sunglasses that look pretty cool on him.

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The man in the pink in the top picture is Michael Arenella, the man who thought up the party and conducts a lot of the music for it. This was its 10th anniversary, and tickets were almost sold out!

I was so grateful for the shower I had when we got home and the (obscenely long) nap I took earlier this evening. We’ve had a very relaxed night, but after such a busy weekend, it’s really nice just to chill! Hope everyone else had a great weekend too – still can’t believe we’re lucky enough to call this city home.

One World Observatory and Maple Goodness

Today was a completely incredible day! And it was awesome for so many reasons.

So I felt like writing about it.

Last night Davis came home from work and said that he’d have to leave for a quick trip to Boston earlier than expected. These trips are so much more manageable than the ones he’d have to take when we were living in Seattle and he was gone every week for months at a time… no fun for anyone. Instead, he’s home almost every night these days and has to take one-off trips here and there, which we can handle no problem. So with this particular jaunt to Boston, he knew he’d have to go this week, but his time there got shifted around a bit, so he had to fly out tonight instead of tomorrow morning. We’d tentatively made plans tonight and he felt bad that he’d have to miss those, so he proposed a day date instead! (I just want to pause on the excitement of that for a second… he’s pretty wonderful, that husband of mine.)

Of course, it couldn’t be a full day, since both of us needed to get work done. But we did something that we’ve wanted to do for a while: go to the top of the Freedom Tower. Being able to plan with such precision made our trip cheaper (there are different tiers of tickets, and if you know exactly what time you’re going, it can save you a few bucks), and it was fun to be spontaneous!

Both of us had been to Ground Zero before, but not since construction of the museum and Freedom Tower had finished. We were pleasantly surprised to find the park area open. The lack of gates surrounding the courtyard made it feel so inviting and nice. And it was incredible seeing the tower rise above the fountains! But the reality and shock of 9/11 hit me again as I was gazing into the North Tower’s pool. Two skyscrapers stood here fourteen years ago. Two skyscrapers full of people, of lives, of work, of ambitions and dreams and friendships and love. And now they’re gone. There’s this apparent hole in the skyline that they used to fill, which I remember was what hit me the last time I’d visited the site. I was only 11 when the events happened; because I was so young and was living on the other end of the country, I wasn’t fully able to grasp the severity of the situation. But seeing this, and the hundreds of names of all the people lost that surround the pools, it really sinks in. I feel lucky that I didn’t know anyone, but I know people who did. One of my best friends lost her uncle, a firefighter who went up to help. Just thinking about it rips me apart, and I didn’t even know him. You can tell that it’s still a huge part of this city too. I see shirts everywhere saying “Never Forget”. Firetrucks have flags and decals remembering the men and women lost. The topic seems to come up a lot in conversation – where were you, what do you remember.

I feel like I can’t adequately describe my thoughts on this, nor can I properly transition away from it. Without the tragedy, there wouldn’t be the skyscraper we were in this morning. I’d really rather not have the new, shiny building if it meant that thousands of people could have their friends and loved ones back. But as it is, the Freedom Tower now stands tall at the tip of Manhattan, and that’s where we saw the world from today.

And holy moley, it was AWESOME.

The whole experience inside the tower was almost otherworldly. Everything was thought through. It’s so shiny and new, and it gives such a fantastic view of the city. They even made the elevator ride cool. We saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey, and midtown Manhattan, of course. In one of the videos that was shown, some of the builders said that on clear days, they could even see the curvature of the earth from the top. Isn’t that insane?! We spent a good amount of time up there, and I think I significantly confused some Italians when I asked if they’d take our picture (which they did, and I took theirs, and then apologized in Italian because there was no flash and it was too dark… but they gave me blank stares, and I felt bad.). I would definitely recommend this to anyone visiting the city or who hasn’t already been – it was a really cool experience. I think we’re hoping to go again when we have family or friends in town.

(One more thing about the tower: there were definitely Disney-like aspects to it, in terms of its thoroughness. The queue kind of had Disney’s famous style of keeping the queuees occupied so they don’t notice they’re waiting. The whole thing felt almost magical. I wouldn’t be surprised if people at Disney helped put some of these pieces together.)

We ate lunch at a nearby burger joint we’d been wanting to try, then Davis said goodbye and headed to the office (and to Boston right afterward… he’ll be back tomorrow night). I spent the afternoon doing some work myself, then I wandered for a while. I’ve taken to doing this, to picking a direction and then just going. It’s helping me get acquainted with the city. There’s just so much to see and do here! Each time I go out, I find at least one more new thing to try. Yesterday I went to Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. and had an ice cream sundae. An by “ice cream” I mean frozen fruit turned into soft serve… it was so delicious, and so much healthier than regular dessert! I’m definitely going back there again.

Today I stumbled upon the farmer’s market that was happening in Union Square. We live close by and I’ve walked by it once or twice, but this was the first time I deliberately explored. I stopped at a maple syrup stand and got to know its owner. He was so kind – he gave me a piece of maple candy (which was delicious – I can now see why Ross in Friends was hooked on it!) and let me try some of their out-of-this-world maple cream. This stuff is like autumn in a jar… I had to buy some. I’m going to have to pace myself, because I could see myself eating a ton of this very quickly if I’m not careful. The owner was telling me all about where he and his family live, how it’s not too far away and how beautiful it is. He and his wife were celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary this week, and they were just so adorable. The whole experience made me really happy, and something to strive for in our lives. I think I’ll go back and see them again next week.

So yes – that was my day. Simple but outstanding. Part of me still can’t believe we’re actually here. I love how each day is different in this giant new city of ours. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored. Excited to see what tomorrow brings.