Spuds snores away and I will write here until it is time to wake him. He is luxuriating in a comfy hotel bed with crisp linens after a freshman year on a metal cot. His mountain of stuff is haphazardly packed away and crammed into a storage space in Red Hook. I stay in the little house where I’ve stayed in before and visit with a particularly charming Welsh terrier. I take Spuds and his gregarious friends to an old school diner. The nose-ringed waitress reeks of tobacco and takes our order on a scratch pad.
Before hitting Bard, I spend a few days in Manhattan and check out the new Russ and Daughters Café, enjoying a mind blowing breakfast with my wonderful friend Rosemary. I have a ticket for what turns out to be a dreadful play at Lincoln Center. It is 5 p.m. on a Saturday and cabs are scarce. People jump, seemingly out of nowhere and grab them up before I have a chance. An agitated woman with an entourage is yelling and trying to get a cab to make a u-turn. Eventually she crosses to my side of the street where I have now been waiting over half an hour and am late for a dinner reservation. The cab stops for me, and a riot practically breaks out. I indicate that I had indeed been waiting longer. She calls me a liar. The taxi driver screams at her. “I’m not taking you.” She tries to open my door and an Asian man presses against my window and yells “white trash.”
My heart is pounding. I have missed my reservation, which means it will be hard snagging a meal before the play. I know there is no loss of life but nevertheless thing like this make me grumpy. I show up nearly an hour late. The restaurant is jammed and there is a long line but for some reason they find me an outdoor table. There are two girls babysitting a little dog and we chat. A two year old named Sam climbs up on a chair at my table. He eats my bread and I talk with his mother. Then there are more toddlers and young parents and a couple of cocktails and suddenly New York seems less awful.
I spend a day exploring Brooklyn with my old friend Steve , checking out hipsters and Hassids. We drive through Alphabet City and Harlem. His car is being exchanged for a new one the following day and he is determined to use up a tank of gas. I visit the Frick Gallery and stroll through Central Park on a particularly spectacular spring day before I catch the train to Bard.
The dorm room, in fairness mainly due to the roommate, is revolting and my impulse is the dive in and get rid of stuff and neatly sort and pack everything but instead I just provide some bins and boxes and leave him to it. It will annoy me all summer that the linens that are packed away haven’t been washed but I guess this isn’t life threatening.
Spuds is wistful leaving Bard and I wonder if I will be back again myself before he graduates. We take the train to Philadelphia,, which despite a spot of rain, we find completely charming. We visit the Franklin Museum, Liberty Hall and see the Liberty Bell. We take a walking food tour and even succumb to the red meat of a Phillie Cheesesteak, which I find underwhelming, but Spuds devours with relish. The highpoint for me is a soft pretzel with hot mustard.
We visit the Barnes Collection, which I imagine, outside of France, is the best collection of Impressionist art on the planet and cunningly displayed in ensembles with antique ironwork and furniture.
The Dodgers are playing the Phillies. The stadium is an 8 minute subway ride from the hotel. We are happy to note a bit of Dodger regalia in a sea of Phillie red. There are no Dodger dogs, instead, to Spuds’ delight, , a number of cheesesteak purveyors. We argue whether the Phillie Phanatic is an anteater or a dinosaur. Spuds and I had season tickets to the Dodgers for a couple years. I remember some of the players and the pleasure I took at his pleasures at the game. Unable to follow the action much myself, I’d listen to Vin Scully on headphones. I commented once to Spuds on one of Scully’s remarks and one of the regulars was surprised. “You’re listening to the game! I always thought you were listening to classical music.” There is no “Kiss Cam” or organ or 7th Inning Stretch at City Field. Despite not singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the absence of Scully and a long rain delay, the Dodgers prevail and we are happy in a way we used to be.
I will wake him soon. He wants to get in another cheesesteak before we catch the train back to Manhattan. We’re there for three days and then he’s back in L.A. for less than a week before he’s off for a summer in Detroit. We haven’t really talked about it I think that we are both aware that these little patches of time together will continue now to dwindle. I know that he is anxious about a summer in a strange city and my own apprehensions are too numerous to list. But we have a tacit agreement to be present in these few days we have. It is time now to wake him up and set out together for one last cheesesteak.