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,


1 comment:

  1. Lauren, I'm sorry that your adventures will end tomorrow, I've enjoyed them so much. I suspect you need a break, though. The pictures have been wonderful and you're spirit has really come through in the text and photos. Perhaps you'll come up with a new idea for a blog!
    One more thing: I'm glad you finally tried a mango lassi. I always get one at the Taste of Amherst. Evan's Mom