Monday, September 3, 2007

Baby you can drive my car

The fiance and I had a wonderful time in Boston, except, of course, when we were driving around. If you've ever tried to get around Boston in a car, you know where I'm coming from. The drive there was just peachy -- we made it in 4 hours flat in our flashy Mustang convertible (half the fun of renting a car in Manhattan is being surprised by what you end up driving), and we listened to the Beatles Anthology most of the way. However, things started to unravel once we got off the Massachusetts Turnpike and immediately screwed up our first set of directions. ("It says to 'bear left,' but which left?") We somehow ended up back on the Turnpike; when we exited we called the hotel where we were staying and got new directions, which we again failed to follow correctly. As "navigator," I should probably take some responsibility for this, but I think most of the blame goes to Boston itself, with its crazy intersections and maddening rotaries and poorly delineated lanes and inadequate street-signage. Anyway, we ended up near Fenway Park, which was definitely not where we wanted to be, especially since there was a game just about to start, and the streets were filled with baseball fans, as well as double-parked minivans unloading BU students into their new homes. At this point we called the hotel again and got another set of directions, which -- you guessed it -- we could not manage to follow. That time it took us much longer to realize we'd missed our turn, though. Finally, a nice man on the street pointed us in the right direction (thanks, nice man!), and we made it to our hotel only 90 minutes after we'd first left the Turnpike. Good times.

Things got better once we got out of the car! On Saturday night we hung out with my brother and his family, and then I strolled around Harvard Square with a friend who's about to start grad school. This time of year always puts me in an academic mood, and so I was jealous of my friend, with his classes to go to and books to read and quads to hang out on. If the feeling persists through the fall, I may need to walk up to Columbia now and then, just to soak up the atmosphere. Anyway, Sunday morning the fiance and I got back in the car, and successfully (!) followed directions to the church where my newest nephew was to be baptized. The celebration was lovely; the four-month-old candidate for baptism acknowledged the solemnity of the event by responding to all of the priest's queries with a hearty Bronx cheer. (Priest: Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God's children? Ryan: Thbbbbbbbbbbbbt!) After mass we had brunch, and then hung out a bit more at my brother's, where we were entertained by my nephews and niece and their many adorable cousins. We headed home that afternoon, and made it back to NYC before 9. I even spotted more wildlife on our trip: one dead fox on the way to Boston, and two deer (one alive!) and one woodchuck on the way home, all alongside the Merritt Parkway. All told, we had a great weekend, but we've resolved that the next time we drive to Boston -- or anywhere -- we're buying a map before we get in the car.

This morning, on my way to visit a friend in Tudor City, I wandered right past the crater left on 41st Street by July's steam pipe explosion. It took me a minute to realize why the street was so torn up there, and why that block seemed so deserted (even for a national holiday). Then I turned the corner onto Lexington and beheld, stretched out north from 42nd Street in all its splendor, a street fair. Which just goes to prove that New York City street fairs cannot be stopped. A nuclear explosion could obliterate Manhattan, and within a month, the crater that used to be Lexington Ave. would be lined with vendors selling corn fritters, incense and slightly irregular tube socks. I don't know who would buy them, but I don't know who buys that stuff now, either. Is it you?

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