It's Friday afternoon, you just won a big case, what better way to usher in the weekend and celebrate than with a Key to the City date!
The Time: Friday, June 18th, 5 45 pm.
The Place: The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Ave at 112th street, Manhattan
The Guy: James, 29, Met on OKC (yes, I am turning into an ad for online dating!)
What Creative Time Says: Thousands can congregate in this space made by a few.
I'm honestly beginning to worry a little about how I will get to all 24 spots this summer, mainly because so many spots are open only during work-weeks hours. Luckily James and I were both able to sneak out just early enough to catch the cathedral before the gates closed at 6pm.
James had already been to the cathedral when he had spent a summer at Columbia so he kindly guided me through the tour, pointing out different sections of the structure, how one could tell when parts had been made based upon the rock used (turns out we're cheapskates) and why the space wasn't yet completed. I was mainly walking around with my jaw dropped in awe of how gigantic the cathedral is. It is odd to see such massive created areas, enclosed by ceilings seemingly reaching as tall as skyscrapers. I had an odd desire to place a trampoline in the middle and bounce as high as I pleased. We whispered our way to find the baptistery which our key unlocked (there are hundreds of locks in the cathedral secreting away alters and confessionals), turned the key and entered into a circular room with a waterless fountain in the middle. Regal chairs sat around the wall and the ceiling arched and peaked its way up to a beautiful stained glass top.
We spent our remaining ten minutes exploring (and pointing other key-holders in the proper direction). Such imposing organized religion normally makes me exceedingly uncomfortable (given the wars, the history, the zealot movements, etc) but this non denominational spot was a refreshing move away from what one normally sees. There were small alters along the way recognizing everything from the FDNY to the AIDS plague (inserted in 1985!!!) and it felt right for NYC to have such a structure.
Leaving the cathedral (we were actually locked inside and had to find a friendly security guard to let us out, I was jealous of all his keys!) the sunshine blasted back into our eyes and the gorgeous gardens opened to us (well, truthfully, those were mainly locked too, there are too many bolts in this city of "ours"). To the left of the cathedral is a fantastic fountain with gods, animals, planets and elements, swirling and smiling to the children that run around it. James, who has done literally almost everything in the universe, from serving time with the Navy, to woodwork, to meeting Sandra Day O'Connor, to traveling to China, gave me the timeline of his busy life while we looked on the flowers blooming in the garden.
On the way from the cathedral to dinner/drinks we passed not one but TWO of my favorite things about NY. 1) A local bookstore with a bargain shelf out front (I should take the time here to mention my inability to pass a cheap bookstore without buying something, it's why I have two bursting-full bookshelves in my smallish apartment) and 2) a fantasy world landmark (this fantasy being Seinfeld, I finally happened upon the diner!!!) We came to The Heights on Broadway and 112th, recommended to me by my dear friend and loving ex- Ethan, beaming with my love of NY.
James and I were looking for an outdoor bar with cheap drinks and tasty food and man did we find it. So what if the wait was over an hour? Sitting outside overlooking morningside heights with a margarita made it worth it (the goat cheese quesadilla was to DIE for!) Plus, during our wait we laughed, pondered online dating (I was James' very first date met online thankyouverymuch) and met an amazing couple, Rosi and Dan who met, I kid you not, on the 1 train four years ago. How's THAT for a NY love story?!
James and I said we'd meet again but I haven't heard from him yet (what is the standard post-date call back time anyways?) Maybe he's waiting to see what I blog or perhaps it was just another fun evening in NYC, exploring, meeting, laughing and unlocking. We can't all get as lucky as Rosi and Dan, but the wonder of this city is that you just never know what you could unearth.
In open wonder,