Monday, September 13, 2010


Just received update, via text message, that Gabe's eyes are, in fact Hazel.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The End of the Beginning

In this lovely video of Paul discussing the key, he states "you have to give something to get something from the artwork." This has been, mostly, a blog about love. About relationships and excitement, of disappointment and trying not to dwell. I've covered love of the city, love of yourself, love of the confusion. But what of the art?

Paul later states, "the artwork is a virus that infiltrates" well, isn't that the same of love? In turn,when you walk into a modern art museum there are more often than not moments of "huh. I think I get it. I think I like it. But do I? Do I really know?" I've certainly been there with the loves in my life. And what of the inaccessibility of so much art, how the more hidden it is the more it's sought after, do we not go after the most withholding of men? If someone gave me a key to the city or, as Paul says, "threw it off the back of an ice cream truck" would it work as well for me, would it hold the same power and magic? Does love that's come without the slightest of effort mean as much to the receiver herself?

On Sunday, September 5th, 2010 at approximately 5:30pm I ventured with the project's most wonderful find Tom to the Whitney Museum of art and turned the last key into the last lock, uncovering a 3D model of plans for the Whitney's latest extension in Chelsea, near where I live. I was sick and Tom was kind, even in my cranky cold-induced moments, and we discussed life plans, growing up, and, what else, love. We later dined on grownup Ramen noodles in the East Village (another of Tom's first) and when we hugged (I had a 100 plus degree fever at this point) my belly button glowed warm with his connection and it was the first time that I truly felt this really may turn into something.  Something beyond a project or a key, but a living breathing work of relational art, all on its own.

The project still felt unfinished, however, even after the 24th lock was turned and even though Tom provided a wonderful companion and holds, I believe, promise, it was not an end that adequately reflected my entire summer. So, on Monday September 6th, 2010, I put on most favorite vintage fairytale shipwreck like dress and head to where it all began, Bryant Park. 

Before the park I go on a dinner date, just me myself and I, and the hard-flipping folks at the not-so-secret Burger Joint, (a wooden paneled, graffitied hole in the wall hidden behind lavish curtains in the upscale Le Parker Meridien) didn't bat an eye when I ordered the works with fries in blue silk. I sat across from a cute guy but instead whipped out a book and when Tom texted me I smiled, but kept my attention focused on myself.

Walking to Bryant Park I noted every person walking by and tried to guess the impact they could play on my life. I took stock of every door and wondered what may lay behind its threshold.   I've always been on the lookout for extraordinary moments in every day life, a leaf imprinted in concrete or the way a child wraps her hand around her mother's pinkie finger, but after key to the city every door front has the ability to bring you to a new world, every person the possibility to make a connection. Even if it’s just empty beer cans and dead fish, a split second romance on a subway platform or a three week love affair. It’s about living, truly living, every moment of your life, noticing the small details, getting lost in the treasures of opportunity and risk, that makes our lives, our loves, and ourselves, all the more interesting to be a part of. I’d never be a passive observer in my own life again.

Finally, after half an hour of sitting, I built up the courage to walk up to the little lock box and get ready to turn the switch and shine the light that evaded me three months prior. The excitment to the moment which I was missing in my dayquil induced haze the day before is here and the key literally feels heavier in my hand, as if it knows it's to be used for the very last time. I crouch down onto my knees and my eyes dart for the lock and....

It's broken. The lock was broken. Someone, some person who came before me, had snapped their lock into the key hole rendering each follower dumbstruck at the inability to render it fixed. I pried at the broken piece of metal, attempted using a bobby pin like Nancy Drew, willed it to slip out with my mind, nothing works. Finally, staring up at the unlit light, I stood and turned to walk away. As I did a young woman approached me, surrounded by three friends. Aren't you that girl with the blog? She asks, and I laugh saying I am. Her and her friends inform me they came to the last site similarly disappointed that the last lock didn't work but they decided to make a night of it any way and were enjoying hot cocoa perfectly temperatured for the new fall weather.  Finally, as I turned to go, the first girl stopped me and asked, "wait, how will this end? Don't you need a date for your blog?" "or at least a functional key site?" questioned one of her friends.

       I paused and looked around at the glow of the garden, remembered the taste of my burger and how liberating it felt to eat it alone with a book, and the quiet beauty on a night with myself and answered

       No, tonight this was enough.

       And, finally,  it was.

         When I first got to Bryant Park, I watched the unfolding of evening Monday-labor day life beneath the floodlights illuminating the space. I saw couples with children, lovers from Europe, teenage hipsters falling for the first time and realize that, all of it, all that emotion and gooey eyes and romance, that is what I want.....eventually, and only when it's worth giving up all the fireworks that come with being by myself. Some of the adventures with men this summer have been fantastic belly-rolling journeys full of mishaps and sparks, others have been more work to make something out of what most likely will last no longer than an afternoon. But I am the common denominator. The moments of wonder must, in the end, come through my own eyes and my own heart, because truly, I have the ability to make my own magic, with or without a key, a map, or a man.

And it only took me 24 dates to figure it out.




Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Twenty Third Date

Happy gorgeous, sun shiny, just the right amount of cool fall day to you all. I hope you have a wonderful adventure planned today, out in the city or town that you call home. Just one week ago I ventured off to my second to last date with Gabe to Corona Queens.

 The Time:  Saturday, September 4th, 4:00pm
The Place: Louis Armstrong House Museum, 34-56th 107th St, Queens
The Guy: Gabe, 26, who I had been on my first date with one year prior and decided there wasn't a love connection as we walked along the highline, second time's the charm?
What Creative Time Says:  Humble spaces are part of the story, even if they are not part of the official tour.

 I love meeting men in every single way possible in NYC. I'll try speed dating, asking out a cute guy in a coffee shop, singles events and in central park. I once flew to Kansas to meet a guy I had been chatting with for months online (sorry parents, but it's true, I'm still alive though!) It comes as no surprise then, that I relish Time Out New York's singles issue every year it makes it's way to my doorstep, and devour its pages and people open and willing enough to put themselves on a market with such a high circulation.

Enter Gabe. A, then 25, tall curly haired guy with fantastic blue eyes. His profile, if I remember, somehow mentioned both his proclivity towards cucumbers and social justice. Obviously, I emailed him right away and we soon found ourselves walking along the building-treetops of the highline in Chelsea. Though our view of the world was spot on, I just didn't feel the love that night and we parted ways.

But when Gabe instant messaged me about law school ( he just started at my alma mater), and sneakily asked me how he should approach a professor about asking out this girl with a key, well, my stomach did that excited momentary burst it does when something gets changed up in life, and I gave him some very useful pointers.

Fast forward to last saturday and me running down the streets of Coronoa, flip flops flapping, back pack bouncing, calling Gabe's name as I recognized his well-over six foot tall frame heading down the road. Though I had approached today with some hesitation, immediately when he said hello, (me standing on tip toes, Gabe crouching down), I felt it again, that slight moment where you body is trying to tell you something like give it a real shot. Given my recent thoughts on "the leap" and "trust me", I tried my best to knock down some of my walls and give into the day(te). We rounded the corner and came upon the unassuming brick building that was once the house of a great jazz master legend.

Kudos here to everyone involved in the Armstrong House Museum for creating an entirely welcoming, fun, and friendly environment. Our tour guide Will was the perfect blend of funny and quirky, real life neighbors whose lives were folded into that of history walked by, and stepping into the house is a complete time warp where you feel you're stepping into gradma's living room and Louis wife Lucille will soon step out with cookies. The house rules were layed out in the friendliest of manners and so, even though I was bummed
 no pictures were allowed, the whole tour was filled with such thanksgiving turkey inspired warmth I couldn't have minded for more than a minute. Spiced with audio recordings of Louis' laughter-speckled words, I wanted nothing more at the end of the tour than to give the musician a hug worth breaking world records.

After the tour Gabe and I ventured through the gardens, took pictures in front of the space soon to house an even larger museum, and headed across the street for a Dominican restaurant which was really more like someone's kitchen with tables pulled up, and dined upon sweet smothered plantains, bursting with flavor yellow rice, and juicy, tender, blackened grilled chicken (well, I did, Gabe is a vegetarian). The ladies running the place were clearly enamored with my blue-eyed giant friend when he busted out his Spanish and they called him Papi through the entirety of our meal.

I was beginning to get to like this Papi as well. Clearly extremely intelligent (even the tour guide said his questions were "very good" in  first grade inspired feedback which made you want some too, sadly my questions did not receive the same accolades, Gabe was the star student of the day) and pursuing a career in international justice and inequality up-ending, we certainly had a lot to talk about. I was just talking about this with my friend Sally but, as much as people tell you to look away from someone's occupation because "it's not who they are it's what they do," I believe there is something to be said in how you choose to contribute to the world with your human capital. Granted, not everyone has the same ability or the same choices available to them in life but, more often than not, the people I am seeing do and I forget how nice it is to be with someone whose efforts are towards righting the wrongs of the worlds full force.  As we weaved through the streets of Coronoa, from thrift stores to vibrant shops, passing children with icees and parents with back to school fliers and spanish spanish spanish everywhere, our conversation kept the most friendly of beats and I found myself looking often up (way up!) into his eyes. Corona Queens is ALIVE with color and sites and sounds and even though I was battling a cold, I felt like skipping next to Gabe.

As we walked past Mosques and Evangelical centers, we eventually settled into a park and watched a rag-tag baseball team reminiscent of The Sandlot and discussed, what else, relationships. Gabe enjoyed questioning me about the whole process and watching me squirm as he asked me to dissect it, and he talked about his own relationships and dating partners from the past year. We talked alot about honesty and the necessity to ensure your partner knows exactly where you're at. Is this for fun or are you looking for something more long term? Are you dating around or sticking with one? Are you even in a place, right now, where you can let someone into your life in a meaningful way? I'm not saying that a third date requires an e-harmony like survey on your life right now, but so much hurt and confusion comes from the lack of that honesty and ability to put yourself out there. I remember talking to Alex of date number six soon after our date on the GWB, and all I wanted him to tell me was he wasn't interested in seeing me because then I could give up and let go for sure. Like the Armstrong museum versus Gracie Mansion, in the former the rules-setting was done with such warmth and care, and prepared me for what was ahead, so I didn't feel so dismayed when things didn't go exactly my way, even if it took more care for the museum to structure it that way, it made all the difference in how I felt about the site.  Gabe, at least, seemed completely comfortable being himself, and being open and honest with himself, with others.

Later on, when discussing what we're both into, Gabe mentions he doesn't really like cute (why he asked me out for a date given this knowledge I have no idea) and I almost  stuff the animal paw printed hoodie I bought at a new designer market back into my bag but then I realized that in order to find someone who loves you for who you are, you need to be who you are and put it all out there. Honestly and rules and hangups and all. I pulled the sweater back over my head, and headed off with Gabe through the dusk-glowing streets of Coronoa, Queens.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Twenty-Second Date

Tonight, I've got couples on the brain. My own past, my friend's futures, life today has seem punctuated by couples and relationships and twosomes. This summer has been one of such change in the makeup of my companion's singledom. Babies have been born and created, marriages proposed and accepted, people move to and move from. And here lies L.A., always floating and turning in space, like a tiny ballerina in a black tutu in some New York City snowglobe.

Part of what I've enjoyed about New York this summer has been the idea of venturing to all these spots,all these little enclaves of life, as part of a couple. Life somehow seems more excited and recognized when you can point out to someone else, "oh that, right there! see that?!" All my dates have bruised upper arms from my constant flailing about at the wonders of life, getting excited over the placement of a toothpick, the shine from a packet of butter, or even the way a key is able to open a lock.

Thus, you can imagine in part my disappointment when I found myself without a partner to share the joy of opening lock number twenty-two as karma had finally kicked me in the butt and added all those late minutes I've blogged about and pasted them onto a series of subway mishaps making date number 22, who shall henceforth be known as "Don", approximately one hour late to our date and thirty minutes beyond the closing time of PostNet box number 136 in the Bronx.

The Time: Friday, September 3rd, 7 32pm
The Guy: "Don" who I was introduced to at a friend's party the week prior
The Place:  557 Grand Concourse, suite 3, Da Bronx
What Creative Time Says:  Check the mail, it's your mailing address too.

So, here I was, all 5'2" exploring the Bronx with nothing but a pair of flip flops and a few case files. Don let me know he'd be running late, (blast the MTA and their unlimited metrocard inflations!) so I decided that, rather than risk it, I'd open this puppy up before the clock struck eight. After wrongly wandering into the actual post office across the street, looking ever regal in its always pip-pip-cheerio-fashion, the attendant kindly pointed me across the street to a glowing neon red sign reading "Postnet". Well, that makes sense.

I have to say that, as I crossed the street, I wanted to linger in between the yellow painted lines to look at the sunset superimposed upon all that neon. The reflections of pink and orange in the shining billboards and twinkling lights of McDonalds and car donation ads, well, it was actually kind of beautiful, like its own uptown tribute to dusk. My photos are at the end of this post.

But time was ticking down and a post office box needed to be open. Once inside, the only one in the store, I cautiously opened the small box and rushing out like the bread out of I Love Lucy's oven exploded scraps of all sizes and shapes of letters from around New York. Notes on receipts and matchboxes, postcards and  trinkets, folded up cranes and even bubble gum wrappers, this little capsule had it all, the hearts and the minds of hundreds of new yorkers with a key.

While sitting and going through the notes, looking, I am sure, forlorn in my little corner of the Bronx, one of the three workers at the store came up to me and we got to chatting about life and love in NY. C.J., the charmer of the crew, said he'd be my date until the real one showed up (though, having cars, they could not believe a subway could actually run so late, believe me fellas, it has and it did and it will again!) and we celebrated someones birthday surreptitiously behind the counter as they closed up shop.

Finally, as  I watched the new light show the advertisements of the way upper east side were putting on, I saw Don waving from across the street. As we couldn't find a nearby place to eat (my coworker who lives up there started laughing when I asked if she could recommend anything in the area) we took C.J.'s suggestion and hopped on to the two train to Harlem and the smothered goodness found in a little shop known as Amy Ruth's. 

Pulling up to the spare, slightly yellowed window overlooking a dining room laden with full looking customers. I watched waiters pull out plate after plate of fried chicken and mac and cheese, smothered pork chops and collared greens. My mouth watered with anticipation and I couldn't even stop to photograph the most slammin 70's style barbershop in the universe across the street.

So Don and I headed inside and ordered everything that we thought would possibly fit in our bellies, meaning waffles, fried chicken, collard greens, catfish, cheesy grits and fried okra. And I'll be damned if I didn't wish for awhile that my stomach could have expanded right there on the spot in a freaky pit-stop surgery the exact opposite of gastric bypass. Literally, I think I used about six packets of butter and ate enough fried pieces to wrap myself up in the flaky crusts but it's all good.  Nothing a quick walk around central park, ghostly midnight hour and all, and jamming briefly, (ok maybe mostly inside our heads) with the boomboxes and barrel tops lining our way through Harlem.

For those of you who haven't walked through this particular area, let me tell you that it, perhaps more than any other neighborhood in NYC, is just alive. With people and languages, shouts and music, kids on mountain bikes and older couples walking hand in cane-holding hand. The beat of this party of the city is just always thumping, even if it's at lower decibels, something just moves you, body mind and soul when you're there. It's an incredible place to walk through at night. The haunting lanterns of an empty central park topped off the evening quite picturesquely, like globe lit breadcrumbs guiding our way to the lumbering subway that would bring us home.

I remembered that C.J., earlier in the evening, had noted to me that not a lot of people actually came and chatted with the people working in the store. I wondered if this had to do with the nature of the project, with the focus on the site rather than the people, your own key gives you your own access and apart from the sites with tours, you don't really need to rely on anyone else. It could also, however, be due to the inherent nature of groups and partners and, well, relationships. When you're in one, or with one, may it be two friends or a date or a lifelong partner, you don't necessarily look for those other interactions quite so much. Sometimes I even feel this way with my friends in new (or old) partnerships, that our friendship somehow becomes not quite so shiny once they have that love in their life. I'm not sure if it's that they need a friend less, or they are just so into the admiration and excitement of love, but it definitely is there and I often feel it.

The date was fun with Don but, I've got to say, it was kind of nice having the first bit to myself, so my eyes were wide open to see everything possible around me.  And the fried chicken and waffles tasted just as yummy as I sat and ate them alone on my stoop the next morning,

But, you know, if that cute guy who just walked his dog by  as I sit writing this on my stoop happens to come back and ask me out to dinner in the village, who would I be to turn him down?

Enjoying it, either way,


Monday, September 6, 2010

The Fall

Happy day-after-labor-day all! And let me give you this official welcome to the fall. Time for leaf-viewing and pumpkin roasting, the halloween parade through sixth ave, light jacket weather that makes you want to catch the farther-away subway just so you can enjoy a few extra moments outdoors, hot cider and pecans and snuggling in with sweaters and slippers. What is there not to love?

My key to the city adventure officially ended tonight but my adventure will continue on, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and this blog, for at least one more week as I get up all the posts from this weekend (not even a 100 degree fever could keep me from finishing the project, nosiree!) As far as dates go I have a clunker, a surprise, a blast from the past, I may even learn something by number 25 (specially added by yours truly).

So I hope you'll stick with me as I finish out this week. I'd love love love to hear what you have to say about the adventures, the love, your own stories of summer romance, and just anything else in the world! (I know you're all out there, google analytics doesn't lie!) Blogging is odd in that it's often so one sided but one of the best things from this project has been hearing the words of encouragement, advice, and thoughts, from all of you. Sadly this project won't last forever, even in a digital sense.

But, until that time comes,  we've got a ways to go, hope to see you at the finish line!



Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Twenty First Date

So I'm behind on posting and most likely won't get all the dates up before the end of the project, ie Labor Day, ie tomorrow!, and coming down with a cold the weekend it all ends has not been helping BUT rest assured the project will be completed and posts will be some point. In the meantime let's finish off our marathon day-date from last Wednesday shall we?

The Time: Wednesday, September 1st, 3:45pm
The Place: The Office of New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm, 25th District, 37-32 75th Street, Queens
The Guy: Tom! (Hope you guys aren't sick of him because I certainly am not!)
What Creative Time Says:Public symbols and elected officials are different kinds of representation.

By this point in quite possibly the most ambitious marathon date of all time, Tom and I were more than a little tired, haggard, and, most importantly, hungry! (case in point? This exchange after Tom takes my picture: Me: "Ugh, I look sweaty and horrible!" Tom: "You don't look sweaty!" Gee, thanks Tom... ;)) But thanks to the cold air of an overly AC'd V train, we were ready and eager to hit the ground running in Jackson Heights, Queens.

As soon as I stepped off the subway and the underground yet brightly lit tunnels brought me to a side corner shop, shoes and beads squashed in every possible corner as if they were stopping sprouting leaks, I knew we were in a place fit for adventure. New York is amazing this way, every street you walk down,every corner you turn leads to an entirely different street culture, food culture, world culture and people culture. Immediately our eyes are filled with Arabic and Hindi, the sharp smell of spices wafts through the air, black haired children grasp onto the wrists of hemp-tattooed mothers, and clinking jewels trailing behind deep purple saris guide us through the walk ways. You can, in fact, visit almost every country in the world right here in Queens, China in Flushing, Greece in Astoria, even Ireland in Woodside. In fact the seven train, for this very reason, has been dubbed "The International Express." In Queens your ears can pick up new languages like lost coins on the street and you can walk from one avenue to another, taking bites like seashells from all the new tastes to try, your wallet, and belly, still satisfyingly full at the end.  Who needs a passport when you have an unlimited metrocard?

It's not just Queens of course, as every street in New York brings out its own inner world of life and love, from the different games children play to the way in which their parents watch (or don't) over them. From the produce sold in markets to who has the rule of the sidewalk streets (Vendors or Strollers? Artists or Arsons? Produce or Pot?). People are so silly sometimes, don't they see this diversity, this range, this breathtaking freedom to chose who to be and when to be it, is what makes our city, and country, so achingly beautiful? New York, new york, I love you I love you I love you.

Oh? And Tom? He was fairing pretty well himself. You'd think after five or six hours with someone you'd run out of topics to discuss but with Tom it kept on rolling, like a salt water taffy pull continually stretching and turning to make the truly perfect texture. Our chatter wasn't non-stop, it involved pauses and breaks, which usually means you feel comfortable enough with the other person to be alright with the silence, but it was full and alive and familiar and, by the end, I wanted to hold his hand down that multicolored street.

So we first wound our way to the esteemed council man's office. When taking a quick peek inside the workspace itself a proud banner fighting for gay rights displayed itself above the hard-working head of a summer intern made me satisfied that this politician was worthy of the honor of a key to the city site right outside his front door. Unlocking the plexi glass display case, tucked behind the American flag, lay an entire little village of objects and notes, eagerly waving hello to Tom and I as we dug right in. The words of the people are below:

Tom and I wrote secret notes that we wouldn't let eachother see and as I lay concealed behind that flag, the red glow creating the most wonderful fort-like feeling, I wondered if it wasn't the perfect spot for our first kiss, but, alas, we returned the notes, locked up the box and headed on our way to find the most delicious delights a conglomeration of countries could deliver!

Can I admit something shameful? I've never visited Jackson Heights! It's perhaps one of the most written about areas of Queens for its food, its street culture, its vibrancy and life, and yet, I've never been! Shame on myself! Luckily I came to this date armed with three, count em three, issues of Time Out New York featuring Queens, Cheap Eats, and Ethnic Foods, so I'd know where to hit among the clatter and bang that overtakes such an intersection of the world. We selected Tibetan cuisine, as Tom had never before tried the food of yak-country (which was all I ate when I was there a few years ago), so we walked into the brightest florescent packed Merit Kabab Palace and headed to the back counter of Tashi Delek Momo, which serves up a combination of Chinese delights with a Tibetan twist. Even the rallying students would have to approve.

Of course we couldn't settle on just one noodle dish from just one of the shops in the cafeteria like dining room, so we ordered veggie Chow Mein, and fried chicken dumplings, and a whole host of fried treats from the Bangladeshi restaurant in the counter to the left, and Mango Lassis (Tom never had Lassi before either!) and some salty miso soup, AND, to top it off, the strangest pink-gel drink I have ever before had in my life, on the house!

The fried treats were delicious (and it was fascinating to watch the workers quickly pack up boxes for Ramadan Fasters to take home for sundown supper) and the dumplings fried to perfection but the standout item of the meal was most certainly those noodles. As promised they were fluffy and light, sauced but not too oiley, springy and perfect. Served with a bright array of fresh vegetables (orange carrots, purple onions, green scallions, Monet himself couldn't have created a better pallet!), my mouth wanted more, and more, and more until I was achingly stuffed.  Tom too seem pleased with his first Tibetan food adventure.

But we couldn't sit around for too long, oh no! There was much to be explored, aquariums and beauty parlors, pillow shops and salsa music blasting from the street. We walked and wandered until, exhausted from the day, we finally decided to head back home. On our subway ride, me clutching my new $6 pillow purchased from the funniest Queens guys around,  I realized that I actually was really liking Tom, that the fun wouldn't have been the same without him, and that he possibly kinda liked me too. So, of course, like the mature girl I am, I dissolved into giggles and couldn't stop laughing, or make eye contact with the most likely very confused marathon-Tom. Before disembarking at Penn Station, I invited him to visit the very last key site with me this weekend and, to my delight, he accepted.

Can't get a much better day than that!

Full and satisfied,  and proud to be a part of this city and this adventure,


Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Twentieth Date or, Trust Me

Gracie Mansion is, quote, "a house of the people." Or at least that's what we're told Mayor Bloomberg would like it to be during the time he is head of our (5bourough) state and allows Gracie mansion to be stomped upon by visitor's footsteps day in and day out rather than those of his own family. Well, it's a house of the people if you are a person who has arranged a tour on a particular wednesday, in advance, without a stroller, who will not take pictures or lean on the furniture. Yes my friends, it was The Met all over again and though I have the Key to the City, I do not, unfortunately have the prep necessary to impress the feisty tourguides at this historic spot. Alas, we trudge on into the battle against so many rules imposed upon us and enter, date twenty.

The Time: Wednesday, Sept. 1st, 1:01pm (Only one minute late after talking worker's rights in the Bronx = victory!)
The Place: Gracie Mansion, East End Ave and 88th St., Manhattan
The Guy: Marathon-Tom
What Creative Time Says: Any of us could live here if we had a majority (and the power to write the rules. Ok, I added that part, all third-term jokes are now out of my system, almost ;))

Sprinting from our recent jaunt in the Bronx (the key to the city wins again! one of us cries as we peer the train, sunlight glinting off its would-be wet back, come around the corner like a whistletop depression era vehicle up in the Bronx just 17 minutes before our guided tour began), Tom and I exited on the Upper East Side and sprinted the five or so avenues until we, sweaty and very unrefined, made our way to the house of our leader. We were rather brusquely checked in by a woman preppier than a Laura Ashley ad campaign, led through a set of metal detectors, and made our way to the tour where a very sweet looking older woman was gathering us around. I began excited to learn something, perhaps a bit of history, perhaps a bit of intrigue, and to find out whether or not mayors can live without AC (turns out, they can't, everything has been updated to cooled air perfection.)

That is until I was whirled around into a spinny top of rules, unable to find my pin point of reference to keep myself from turning. I swear I was a five year old kid  again trying not to giggle in church, scratchy tights and squeezing mary janes and all.

"No Photos." They said as I turned on my camera
"No touching the furniture." They barked to two tiny little girls who, once anxious looking with key inspired determination, simply turned off, their faces back to the masked performance children are too practiced at giving to seemingly well-meaning adults.
"Ascent the staircase one at a time." "No walking on the grass." "No venturing on the porch." "No dawdling or looking on your own."

No. Just, no. There were interesting things about the tour of course, I learned why chandeliers have so many dripping spheres of glass (to make the small flames more vibrant!). You could tell the women leading the tour had such a love and reverence for history and I, in turn, loved the hand painted, victorian inspired wrapping wall paper in the dining room. It was a delight to imagine we were being bugged and recorded, watched by a sweaty CIA man in a van parked down by the river (was that just me? oh, well, my imagination is very active) and, get this, I was introduced to the actual key to the city, as in, the one pictured on the top of this blog! For a place engaging in a public art project (and trust me, I love  that Bloomberg got so behind this piece, guess third time's the charm, ba-dum CHING!), they certainly didn't embrace the whole freedom, secret, empowered, sneaky, explorative ideals that the project, to me, seemed to encapsulate.

Why couldn't they just trust us? What, with the key we'd run all over Gracie Mansion, flipping over sofa's, carving our names into the prized steinway piano? Just the image of well-meaning new yorkers, willing to wait hours in line in times square for a key, then reserve a spot on a tour, in advance, then brave the upper east side, go through a name check and a full scale security clearance, somehow causing so much damage to the Gracie Mansion (not a museum mind you, but a place actual living humans often occupy and, gasp, hold events in) amuses me to no end.  Jerry Seinfeld does this hilarious piece about spring loaded faucets that comes to mind:

So, I go to the bathroom in the airport. What is the story on the sinks in airport bathrooms
That they will not give us a twist-it-on twist-it-off, human-style faucet? Is that too risky for the general population? Too dangerous?  What is it they think we would do with a faucet?
Turn them all on full, run out into the parking lot, laughing, pushing each other into the bushes?
"Come on, the water's on, let's go!" "I turned it on full blast." "You idiot! We're businessmen, we're gonna miss our plane." "Who cares! Water!" That's how they think we're gonna act.

Granted, I have laughed and pushed plenty of people into the bushes during these key sites, but I've had the deceny of leaving the mayor's home before doing so. But seriously, what on earth is there not to trust, or, if you go into a relationship assuming there is no trust, can it ever fully exist? I broke the rules with my ninja camera skills at Gracie Mansion because there were so many rules placed upon me, I was already told that I was a trouble maker and they knew it so they were going to do everything in their power to stop it, sounds like a challenge to me! I did the same to my poor mother whose head I am sure has extra grey hairs because of the stunts I would pull pretending I was a "bad kid" because she already assumed I'd be acting like one (picture a small bag filled with sugar and me planting sets of baby sitting earned twenty dollar bills in my room as a scenerio).

This can, of course, all be applied to love. I was on my "fourth" date with Tom after all, and things were starting to get pretty serious, nod nod wink wink, mostly to the delight of the ladies outside my tour who wanted to know all about how we met and the project and how it was going (one even wished Tom luck as we parted.)

I have certainly had my ups and downs with trust and love over the years and, can I be honest, there is no way in heck I'd allow someone to enter my home-self with abandon and run on through. Ok maybe  if they waited online and passed a checkpoint and made a reservation and called it art, maybe then they'd be allowed in, but certainly it has to be cautious right? Maybe I would only allow for him to enter single file while holding a handrail with my eyes pasted on the back of my head. Granted, past experiences have left me mostly unscarred. I've had the occasional "kissed another girl on summer vacation" devastation when I was sixteen  but, in general, most who have handled my heart have done so with at least some care, so where do all the eggshells come from? Does Gracie Mansion have some horrible vandal in its past hallowed halls, or were the guards implemented long before a sharpie marker was drawn?

I don't know, or, I have guesses but I can't know for sure and with those inklings its hard to know what is the best way to proceed.  I know I really love hanging out with Tom but when he asked me certain questions as we sat sipping smoothies overlooking Roosevelt island and the many, many, shirtless men who frequent the upper east side on random weekday afternoons, I just froze up. Luckily, of course, I recovered with my amazing leaf-turned-frog-belly horticulture skills. But for a moment there it got a little scary.

Would the art work better if we were allowed to run amok? Does love run more free when we are completely open with all barriers removed? I know you need to make space to allow life to come in, doors closing and windows opening and all that jazz, but can your space still be protected? Can it still be your own? And, if you're not ready to let the wind come rushing through your being like a wooden board house with its doors blown off the hinges in the middle of a hurricane, should you really be putting yourself out there? If you want to impose so many rules upon a visit, so many barriers and "no's" and "don't do's" and "can'ts" should your really be inviting 10,000 strangers to walk through your home?

Four sites left and a boatload of questions to be answered,