06 April 2014

cold weather, warm strangers, good friends

The Seventh Day
text: molly holleran
photography: katie beth

Ah, Thursday. If pleasure were something graphable I would say that we had an averagely pleasant time. Mostly it’s my memory choosing to remember the best parts. It wasn't terrible, only that it was bitterly cold and windy. The deuce of Ks went to move Bruce from the sweepers again so HE and I went out on our own. We did not have anywhere particular to go in the morning, so I found a military surplus store on Yelp that looked excellent. It had a five star review and very happy customers. There was a stationary store nearby that would have the postcards that we wanted. Off we went, fighting the wind which had dropped the 18 F degree weather to 3F due to windchill. I was all set is a little chilled in my coat, but HE only had on one jacket and she was miserable. We didn't notice how bad it would be until we were in Manhattan and were trying to find the shop. Eventually, we turned the corner only to see that the shop was closed! Disappointed and a little frustrated, we walked a block up and over to the stationary store. There I found the perfect journal for the best price that I have seen since. It’s small and green, takes fountain pen ink beautifully, and is blank for sketching. Postcards abounded and were a little nicer than the usual.

The shop itself was tiny. Think shipping container set into an alley. On the left, all the way to the back was a wall covered in backpacks and duffel bags, padded out so you could see their size and capacity. On the right hung jackets and belts and at the front was a counter with buttons and pins. Every nook and cranny was filled with examples of merchandise. An opening in the back lead to storage. A large front window helped light the room, but the brightest thing in the shop was the personality of the proprietor. He was a middle aged or older Asian gentleman who was delighted to see us. He was in the middle of receiving a shipment and told us not to mind him as he moved the boxes around. While he fussed over the fact they they were very heavy, “Seventy pounds!” he didn't have that much trouble with them. Since he was busy with that we turned to shopping. HE was cold and wanted to buy a jacket. Hanging from the ceiling was a selection of bomber jackets which she admired until the proprietor offered to bring one out for her. HE looked at her and said. “You’re a Small. I know these things. I’m good at them.” She was dubious, but when he came back he was right and it fit wonderfully. He brought out one of the backpacks for me and spent great care showing me how to work the straps in the back so that they would not slip even under tension. “Always go to two first. Two, then one, then three!.” We eventually left, prepared for the wind,  happy and his kind words “You two are so sweet. So cute.” warming our ears.

Back on the train we hopped and traveled to 57th Street on the F train. We wandered around for a bit looking for food but quickly realized that any food on the lower end of Central Park was going to be decimal points out of our budget. As we waited for K&K to arrive we explored various shops and stores along the way. H had a perfect strategy for getting us out of shops while avoiding any discomfort that comes of looking around and then leaving. She would just look at her watch, exclaim something about being late and we would hurry for the door before the salesman got too pushy. Eventually, K&K found a Chipotle’s and we ate there. It was a busy hub of NYC black pea coats. We ate and caught up with each other before making further plans for exploration.

K&K had seen a tobacconist’s on the way there. H was delighted at the prospect so we walked up a block to a delightful store. Despite being four young women, the shopkeeper never looked at us strangely but chatted nicely with us while the few of us who smoked considered merchandise. He was smoking a cigar and the air was mixed with tendrils of smoke. While it was not oppressive, I enjoyed stepping outside all the more for it. In the back of the shop were seating areas and display cases full of polished pipes. After admiring them for a while we left KJ and HE there to sit and smoke and talk. KR and I went off in search of a bathroom but found Tiffany’s instead. We went in and generally felt out of place. They gave us strange looks until we left. WE continued on our way until we found 5th Ave Presbyterian Church. It took up a large part of the block and I began to feel its size as we rounded each corner looking for the door. It rose high above us in spires in a sort of Neo-Gothic style in red sandstone. Inside was quiet. The man at the desk let us use the restrooms without fuss and let us go into the sanctuary as well. IT was dark and quiet while light gleamed in through the stained glass windows. Red carpeting and dark wood gave a respectable background to the gilt organ that rested behind the pulpit. In a moment of quiet K and I sang the doxology into the muffled room. While we were in the church I felt at home in a way that I would not anywhere else in our trip. There’s something wonderful about knowing that you belong to a family that covers the globe.

We returned to the tobacconist and made our way to Central Park. The bitter cold made it entirely unsuitable for lingering, but we walked up a path to some sun and paused to let our feet feel the ground beneath us. Having been to Central Park we turned and went back to the apartment where we spend the rest of the night in, happily busying ourselves with food and words. I made cake, and KJ made drinks, and we all built dinner together. That evening, our hosts had a guest over and conversation grew lively as we took a moment to share each other’s lives.

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