Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Seventeenth Date!

So. It's a fairly nice night out and I have a fairly nice stoop so I decided, as I am want to do, to write this post while sitting outside overlooking my street in the west village, NYC. I have a glass of water (because it's still August after all, even if for a few more hours), my laptop, and my phone all balanced in my hands as I pull my door shut with my right foot (thank you yoga) before tip toeing  outside (I live in a townhouse of a wonderful family I used to nanny for, thus the tip toeing.)

Can anyone guess yet what is wrong with this picture? I have contact with the outside world (phone), hydration (water) and the impetus upon which to write this blog (laptop). What else is missing right?

My keys.


So, yes, I am writing this on my stoop, locked out of my apartment, unsure what on earth I will do this evening to get a good night's sleep. I can't very well wake up my landlords, they have three children after all, but I just don't know if the mosquito-laden front porch of my home will do it for me tonight. Hmmm. And don't think I miss the irony in all this. I, unofficial key girl of New York, LOCK myself out of my apartment, without my KEYS. There are just too many levels to explore here.

Well, until that's all figured out, let's got on with the writing shall we? Without further adieu let me rush in the quirky, the nutty, the perhaps most surprising of all, date number 17!

The Time: Monday, August 30th, 6:02pm
The Place: Joe Holzka Community Garden, Castleton Ave and Baker St, Staten Island
The Guy: Dan, 26, another set up from my faithful friends, this time the delightful Patty Eames.
What Creative Time Says: This public gazebo was once a private casino.

About four weeks ago Patty and Chris, quite possibly the cutest couple of the century, came to visit New York. Over milkshakes I told tales of my summer of love (well, perhaps my love of summer) and the quest and challenge I was facing. Immediately, the two turned towards one another. "Dan?" they said. After scrolling through facebook pictures and learning he was a foodie in advertising with a sense of adventure, well, what more possibly needs to be said?

So here I was, Monday afternoon, leaning up against the ferry terminal wall reading my latest acquisition (Then We Came to The End, very funny.), unable to believe that I was actually getting nostalgic for my final key venture to the fifth borough. Staten Island, how I do apologize for not giving you a chance earlier along!
 The ride was, as always, tourist filled and beautiful and there really may be no better feeling in the world then sea breeze brushing around you, even if it is from the Hudson river. Dan and I are such huge talkers (we actually missed two ferries because we weren't paying adequate attention, thank goodness it was rush hour) that I imagine we sounded like two children's footsteps chasing a new kitten around an attic to a bystander down below (or just the German tourists to our left.) Upon disembarking we ran to the S46 and spent the next twenty minutes craning our necks out the window in hopes of spotting the proper exit point. Dan asked, "don't they announce the stops on a bus?" No Dan, no they do not, that would be far too practical for our oft-confused MTA system.

The Joe Holzka Community Garden (and a big thank you here for including so many gardens on this tour, they are the epicenter of community and growth and big city delight and surprise) was tended by the adorable Kathy who allowed us free reign to smell, touch, and even taste the delights around the garden. Certainly the biggest I've visited, it hosted plants from all over the world (Kathy taught us how to tell what country of origin the planters were from based off the layout of their plots.) The colors were hidden and gorgeous, like I-Spy's in nature, play sardines until you stumbled upon their bursts of reds, pinks, and yellows.

What a delightful way to spend a monday eve. Better yet was entering the adorable gazebo, outfitted with chairs and a mysterious box labeled "Take One." Inside? A whole army of tiny origami projects, many made by Kathy herself. Dan and I attempted to create our own objects before succumbing to the origami taboos of crumpling and tearing, snapped a few photos, and made our way to dinner.

Oh right,dinner. You see, "winging it", which has worked in my past and which I had also hoped for that night, is not exactly the best idea for a monday evening in the middle of Staten Island. Kathy "maybe" knew where a bus "might be" and directed us to Forest Hills Ave where the Staten, which sounded promising, was located. So Dan and I waited on the most western-archetype deserted street in NY for a bus to bring us to the corner of McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken land and the two of us, determined to find the best cuisine SI had to offer, trudged along the strip-mall like road. Where were we, Tennessee? Oh, and it turns out the Staten is a buffet mart, only open for lunch, from 12- 2 30pm. Whoops.

I was about to give up and hightail it to Baskin Robbins (hey, I'd never been to a Dunkin Deli before, that would be new!) when across the way, under a haze of florescent kegs and mugs, a green awning read "Best Burgers in Staten Island." Done.

Duffy's, where we decided to land was, in four words, old school scrumptiously perfect. The waiters were locals (we got into a great debate about the island's best pizza because, you know, now I'm an expert)  the burger special was blue cheese, the bloody mary's were six bucks and the sweet potato fries were the best I have ever eaten. Seriously it was like a crunchy juicy skin containing the most wonderfully pureed sweet potatoes in the world. I had died and gone to bar food heaven.

Dan and I decided to walk back, discussing the best in Pixar movies, his job in advertising, and what on earth the random knots of teenagers circling the island came from. We passed sparkly organic cleaners, dozens of bagel shops, and the strangest townhouse turned burrito hut this side of the Mississippi. Finally when we could walk no more (we ran out of street lights!) we boarded the bus and headed back to our little isle of Manhattan.

On the return trip, there was, I swear to goodness, the most beautiful moon I have ever seen in my life. Full yet halved, so close and yet so orange, it was haunting and beautiful and perfect in the moment. I, of course, took approximately 1000 pictures, Dan was kind enough to let me do so.

The key to the city came to me in my hour of need, bringing me a snappy burger and the most perfect of sweet potato fries just when I had almost given up all hope. Which is where I was with this whole apartment thing when who should so happen to answer my facebook cry for locked-out help but, I kid you not, our dear friend Tim, of the original Staten Island adventure.

This truly is a magical little key. Now only if it would open the door to my apartment.....

Locked Out, but with quite the view,



  1. A buffet mart!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Staaten is one of the best places to go on the north shore. Check out their site. If Duffy's were on the corner, they would be cattycorner to each other. Anyway, L, I was so happy that you visited with your date. I've only read a little of your blog, but I'm going to read more. I enjoy your zest for life and your detailed descriptions of so many things you have observed and all your photographs! It was great meeting you, and now you have a reason to return to Staten Island, a visit to the Staaten, maybe with your best date. Cathy

  2. Keys!!!! I can relate. Key to the city, key to your heart, but no key to the door!