I climbed into the car, trying to smile at my date while attempting to avoid catching my heels on the sundry empty soda cans that littered the floor of the passenger side.
I had felt rather sophisticated as I was getting dressed for what would be my first date as a Manhattan resident, but it occurred to me as I dodged a mysterious sticky spot on the dashboard that getting picked up in an ancient Honda that smelled vaguely of cheese was decidedly unsophisticated.
Don't be a snob, I ordered myself as I inched closer to the open window.
"I just need to get on the FDR and we'll be on our way," he said.
I couldn't figure out why he needed to get to the FDR when Chelsea Piers - our destination for the evening - was on the west side, but this guy grew up in New York City, so I decided he knew something I didn't and stayed quiet as he headed east.
Twenty minutes later we got off the highway and, having already covered all of the customary first date topics, fell silent.
Racking my brain for something to say, I glanced out the window in time to see us drive past my street and hear my date curse under his breath.
"I guess we didn't need to get on the FDR," he said, his face turning red.
I opened my mouth to say something supportive but what came out was,
"No, we definitely did not."
We finally got to Chelsea Piers and I made a beeline for the arcade, hoping that noise and crowds would make the night go a little faster.
"Wait, I forgot something."
He left me on the edge of the parking lot and raced back to the car. He popped the trunk and pulled out a Trivial Pursuit box, then walked back to me, beaming like he had just won a gold medal.
"What are we doing with that?" I asked.
"We're playing it."
"Playing it where?"
"Over there. On the bench. By the water."
"But what about the arcade?"
"Oh, we're not going to the arcade. This will be more fun."
So we sat and played the game as I shivered uncontrollably in a dress wildly inappropriate for the cold September night.
Two hours passed before I finally muttered something about needing to study and told him I had to go home.
"But I thought we would go get some pizza," he offered.
"No, no. No pizza. I need to go home. Now."
He pulled up to my apartment and had barely stopped the car before I got out, tossed a goodbye over my shoulder and slammed the door without looking back.
Two days later my phone rang while I was studying and I let it go to voicemail.
Later that night I listened to the message. It was him, asking me out again.
Well, it turns out that a little bit of stomach upset was just the opening salvo. As the day dragged on, I got sicker and sicker until I couldn't breathe through my nose or lift my head off my desk. Around 2 I finally gave it up and went home to spend the rest of the day on the couch emptying my DVR.
Yesterday morning it was even worse, so I didn't come in to work, but instead spent the day in bed sleeping on and off, surrounded by the delightful accessories pictured above.
And today? I'm at work, but not all that much better. I don't get sick very often, but when I do, I really, really do.
It's fitting, I guess, that since it feels like fall outside and is supposed to feel like winter tomorrow, I have the kind of cold that is usually reserved for the cooler months.
I'll be spending the first half of my Memorial Day weekend resting up and hoping that this cold goes away in time for Sunday's festivities. I'm hosting a grown-up princess party at my house for my best friend's bridal shower, and would hate to spend the entire time sneezing, coughing, and generally making everyone wish that they were somewhere else.
"Did you get the invitation to her engagement party?" my friend asked.
I hadn't, which most likely means no wedding invitation will be coming my way.
We met on our first night of college. We shared a freshman hall and bonded over a mutual love of TV and our legacy status, both of our dads having been members of the class of 1976.
We studied and lived together. We shared meals in the dining hall and adventures in Boston together. I spent holidays at her nearby house when I couldn't make it home for one reason or another.
After graduation we moved to Manhattan together - one-half of a foursome of friends - and for that first year we blazed a trail between our respective apartments, queens of our Upper West Side neighborhood.
We settled down, I into law school and she into her dream job, but our friendship never wavered.
And when I went on the blind date that changed everything, she was the first friend I told.
The shift happened so slowly, I barely noticed it at first.
Our conversations got shorter and less frequent. I learned details about her life from another friend and was surprised she didn't tell me herself. Our once weekly Shabbat meals started to disappear, and our Saturday afternoon trips to Central Park stopped almost completely.
For a little while I quietly took the blame. David and I got very serious very fast, and I thought maybe I was replacing her with him. When I broached the subject he pointed out, rather astutely, that none of my other close friendships were suffering the same fate.
But I let it ride, trying not to worry that once a week hang outs had become once a month catch up sessions.
And a year later when I got engaged I asked her to be a bridesmaid, perhaps nostalgic about our best years. Wanting my foursome back together on my most important day. And I took in stride her absence at my engagement party and her lack of enthusiasm in my bridal shower. But when I took a minute to think, I understood.
She wasn't happy for me. Not the way a friend is supposed to be.
And for the first time, I got mad.
We went through the motions of the next months, and at my wedding I tried to put the anger aside and dance with the girl I used to know before everything changed.
But after the wedding we continued to drift, and almost three years later there is nothing left of those once forever friends except for an e-mail here and there. On birthdays. When I bought a house. When she got engaged.
I didn't get an invitation to her engagement party which most likely means no wedding invitation will be coming my way.
The words blew through me, warm and strong, as I sat in Shabbat morning services this past Saturday. I'm not so sure what it is about our new synagogue in White Plains, but it is there that I always think these kinds of things.
It was, admittedly, our first time there in quite awhile. We both work full time, and by Friday night we are completely exhausted. We tend to go to bed early, and sleep really late on Saturday morning before commencing our Saturday morning routine. We don't often wake up early enough to make it to services, and when we do, we usually prefer to relax our way through the day, rather than deal with dresses and heels and makeup and suits and ties.
But this past weekend we were there. Since we moved a little more than six months ago, some friends of ours had been considering White Plains as well. They live in apartments now, and are almost ready to choose a community and settle down. Since I really want them to choose our community, and settle down as close to my house as humanly possible, they came and stayed with us for the weekend to check out the town, the synagogue and the people. To decide if maybe White Plains could be the place for them.
And for twenty-four hours, I saw our new city, our new home, through their eyes.
It is easy for me to get caught up in the daily minutia that comes with owning a house and working somewhere other than where I live. All kinds of things, both big and small, are different today than they were six months ago. Since we moved we've had dripping pipes, exploding pipes, a leaky washing machine, a yard sorely in need of maintenance, and a clogged bathroom drain. I've had to find a new running route and a new place to get a manicure. I've had to adjust to getting up an hour earlier than I did when I lived in the city, and make the switch from a 15 minute commute to one that takes the best part of an hour.
There are some really, really wonderful things about our new home too, but it's occasionally hard to see the forest for the trees.
But this past weekend, I did.
This past weekend, I was more appreciative than ever that we own a house that can hold four extra adults and two little kids and not feel cramped. I was thankful that we have made really good new friends in our neighborhood who we were able to introduce our old friends to. I was proud that we have become part of a community that warmly welcomed our friends into the fold. I was happy that we have learned the streets well enough to show everyone around, and help them decide what neighborhood would be best for them.
It's no secret to anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis that moving was not the easiest thing for me. It was harder than I ever expected to leave Manhattan, and a little scary to own something bigger and far more expensive than just clothes and shoes. Something that needs tending and love and maintenance and care.
For the first couple of months I had flashes of contentment. Ephemeral moments where I felt warm and happy and secure in our new place. but those moments were almost always followed by anxiety over the newness of it all.
But lately, that contentment comes stronger and more often. I feel it when I run my now-beloved Bronx River Pathway. I feel it when I see a familiar face in the grocery store. I feel it when we work on our house and I feel it when I drive the now-familiar streets of our neighborhood. And this past weekend, I felt it when I was able to welcome old friends into our new life. A life that we are building for ourselves, slowly but surely, and one step at a time.
Not every day is good, but there are certainly more good days than bad. More days where I am warm and happy and secure. More days when I am able to say, with absolute certainty, this is our home.
When I get home at night, I really never know quite what I might find. Last night when I walked in the door, the first order of business, as it always is, was to head upstairs to change my clothes. I walked into my room to find that David had replaced our pillow cases with these:
We had a good laugh, and since I was in such a good mood, when David suggested a trip to Home Depot I agreed to go along for the ride. Now, ordinarily I hate that store with the fiery heat of a thousand suns, but our shower has been draining at a glacial pace and we really needed some unclogging materials. It was a nice night, and since I figured we would only be stopping in the plumbing aisle, the trip would be a quick one.
We got to the store and, since we had done some research on what exactly we needed, the plumbing necessities were dispatched with quickly. As I turned to head to the check-out, David asked me where I was going, at which point I said something along the lines of:
"Home. Dinner. Modern Family. American Idol Hometown Visits. Whatever gets me out of this dusty home-improvement hellhole fastest."
And then he said the words I fear the most every time I reluctantly step through those garish orange framed doors.
"I just need a few more things. It won't take long."
"What kinds of things?" I asked, curling my hands into fists by my side so I didn't punch anything.
It's my own fault, really. I could have stayed home while my power tool-loving man strolled the aisles, basking in the glow of his handy man's heaven. But since I decided to go along for the ride, I had to wait while he chose hammers:
Consulted on drills:
Tested the drills:
And selected a drill to join the other two drills we already have at home:
But this drill is different. Really, it is.
We also had to stroll by circular saws and wrenches, but by that point I was already delirious and probably having an asthma attack from the dusty air so I couldn't capture those aisles for posterity.
Say it with me. There is no such thing as a quick trip to Home Depot. Ever.
I'll be staying home next time, thank you very much.
I was already wide awake when my alarm went off at 5:30 on Sunday morning, shattering the stillness of dawn. I had been lying in bed for half an hour, staring at the ceiling. My stomach was alive with butterflies as I thought about the hours ahead.
There was another morning just like this one, exactly a year before. I laid in the same bed, staring at the same ceiling. My stomach was alive with butterflies, but also with a thin layer of fear. Fear of the unknown I think. Fear of what was to come. Fear that all my training, all my preparation, wasn't enough.
This year, there was no fear. Anxiety, yes. But not fear. I could do this. I had done it before.
It was time to run.
I got up, put on the clothes that I laid out the night before, and headed out. It was barely 6am when I got downtown to the starting line, but there were already tons of runners walking around, stretching out, and crowding into the starting corrals. The race announcer was already on the loudspeaker, and the streets were alive with pre-race energy.
When the gun went off, a huge cheer rose up from the crowd.
And away we went.
The race went great. Better than last year. Seven minutes better, actually. I felt strong, confident, and happy. There is so much to recap from the race weekend, and the race itself. There is so much I want to write down for you, and most especially, for me. Because this past weekend is one I want to remember clearly. One I want to be able to look back on and point to and say "I did that." So I have been struggling since I landed in Pittsburgh on Friday morning with how, exactly, to write it to make sure that I can.
And somewhere around mile 10 of the race it came to me. Running is often a solitary sport. But when I run a race I realize that I could never do what I did without the support of family and strangers alike. So I decided to recap my race weekend with a series of thank yous, if you'll indulge me.
To the Pittsburgh Airport, for this sign in the main terminal.
To the City of Pittsburgh, my favorite place in the world, for being so incredibly beautiful, and for absolutely perfect race weekend weather.
To GNC, the sponsors of the marathon expo, for giving us a huge poster to sign that will hang in the GNC store in downtown Boston, and for making #RunForBoston bracelets with all proceeds going to The One Fund. Every single person I saw at the race, myself included, was wearing one, and we thought about Boston as we ran our miles. Pittsburgh Proud, Boston Strong.
To Sister K, who drove in from Cleveland by herself with both of her kids to hang out with me for race weekend.
To Nora Roberts, for her new book Whiskey Beach. I spent all day Saturday reading that gorgeous romance instead of being nervous.
To my mom, for getting up before the sun on Sunday morning to drive me downtown, even though there were buses leaving from down the street to shuttle people to the starting line.
To my dad - a former marathoner himself - for reminding me to never skip a water stop, and for navigating traffic and closed roads to pick me up at the finish line.
To the three women standing next to me in my starting corral. I don't know your names, but your conversation about your personal trainers definitely made the time before the starting gun go by a whole lot faster.
To the woman in the white hat standing up on the fence who, because of her vantage point, offered to take pictures of the crowd for everyone around her holding a smart phone, which was absolutely everyone around her.
To the race announcer, who managed to quiet 30,000 people for a moment of silence for Boston.
To the band playing the Rocky theme just beyond the starting line. Everybody needed that.
To the spectators all along the first mile. It was 7am and pretty cold, but they were awake cheering like it was the middle of the afternoon.
To the fireman I saw at mile 6 running the race in full gear. You are my hero.
To the extremely pregnant woman I saw at mile 7 holding a sign that said "Run Faster Honey, My Water Just Broke." I needed that laugh.
To this guy:
To whoever came up with the idea to hang "Runner of Steel" signs on every bridge in the race. Running the bridges is really, really hard, and the signs gave a much needed boost.
To the family I don't know who cheered my name from the exact spot where my race started to fall apart last year, immediately erasing the bad memories and replacing them with good ones.
To the family just after mile 10 handing out chocolate chip granola bars to all the runners. A snack never, ever tasted so good.
To the slightly drunk spectators on the South Side all along mile 11. Your pre-10am drinking made for a fun mile for all of us.
To the woman running next to me as we started the final mile who said to herself, "I'm tired and I'm hurting, but I've got this." You reminded me that I did too.
To whoever decided to turn up the microphone at the finish line to full blast. I could hear the finish half a mile before I saw it.
To the spectators lining the final quarter mile of the race. Your cheers carried me over the finish line.
To the volunteer who gave me my medal at the finish line. I can't remember if I thanked you in person.
To this sign, because I did:
To my niece, who forced me to keep my legs moving after the race by chasing her around the park. Can't say no to that face.
To all my incredible friends - both in person and in this vast virtual world. You kept me going through long months of training and through 13.1 miles. I couldn't have done it without you.