On Friday, June 29 we took a motorcoach (first class mind you, HA!) to my cousin’s wedding just outside of New Hope, Pennsylvania. The bus is my least favorite way to travel but the security lines are nonexistent, you don’t have to take your shoes off unless you want to and you can travel with a paper bagged beer in your hand. Every time I take a bus ride it’s at least a two hour commitment. This ride took us to Bucks County, which is a place I could retire. We stayed in Peddler’s Village at the Golden Plough. The bus drops you right outside of the hotel. Peddler's Village sounds like an old time red light district and the Golden Plough is what Trump would get for a certain amount of money. You would think it's a place right out of the early 1800’s, but you would be wrong. Peddler’s Village opened in 1962 and seems to remain stuck in the 1980’s - 90’s. It reminds me of my teen years and who needs that? But Memories of childhood are all part of this weekend's activities. Ugh!
I can count on one hand the amount of weddings I’ve attended including my own. This was a heatwave weekend. 98+ degrees, HOT, humid and ‘Garden Chic’. The weekend was booked with family gatherings starting with a dinner at 5:30 Friday evening at the Cock'n Bull in Peddler's Village near the Golden Plough. I can't say those words enough. He He He. Saturday afternoon at four was the wedding and Sunday was the bon voyage brunch. It was an outdoor wedding. The wedding and reception took place on an old farm, with stone buildings and big beautiful old growth trees. The ceremony was short and sweet. Just short enough that no one melted. A speech, a song, some candle lighting and it was over. Pictures were taken and the reception began almost immediately. Five hours, ten cocktails and a few pints of sweat later we were Ubering back to the hotel. We were up early Sunday morning and starving. We showered, packed up quickly and grabbed some breakfast at an indoor/outdoor breakfast shop, for lack of a better name. After check out it was back in an Uber and off to my Uncle’s house for brunch cocktails. All in all it was a very nice wedding and an easy weekend. This side of the family knows how to party. We were home by 5:30pm Sunday evening.
I’m not superstitious but maybe I should have picked up on the things that were happening around me. These were possible signs of what was to come in the next couple of weeks. I probably should have paid more attention to the sweltering heatwave and the fact that our Plough Room AC unit crapped out while attending the wedding. I also left my cell phone when leaving on Sunday and had to have our Uber driver turn around and return to my uncles to retrieve it before catching the bus back to NYC. That is something that I never do. OH, and the tree that fell across the road impeding our progress probably could of been a sign. How could these things be explained? Supernatural? Well, it is summer in the age of Climate Change and shit happens. But that explanation seems to simple and things were about to get a whole lot weirder.
July 4,1776 was the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Enormous declaration. It was bigly. All the great forefathers were there. We love our country. We are patriots and we celebrate this anniversary every year. Most of the time we celebrate outside of NYC. I’m not a fan of crowds. The irony of living in NYC. I can’t do concerts or big packed celebrations anymore. But, and it’s a big but, Jen works at Macy’s. Macy’s is known for two major events, The Thanksgiving Day Parade and the New York City Fireworks. Jen gets free passes to each event. We agreed that we need to do each at least once. Last year we did the turkey day parade and this year we did the July 4th celebration. The event takes place at Hunters Point South Park, (LIC) Long Island City, on the east side of the East River. So most of the day will be figuring out how to get there. Everything is difficult in NYC.
The plan on July 4, 2018 was to grab some lunch, take the East River Ferry up to Greenpoint, bar hop and visit a friend, crossover the Pulaski Bridge into Long Island City, continue bar hopping and arrive at the event around 7pm. The plan was solid and worked out pretty well. The after plan was the reverse except for when we got back to Greenpoint, we would take an Uber home from there.
The day was in the 90's. A miserable heat that makes you want to stay indoors and not trek around the asphalt and concrete city. But we made the decision to do this so we started drinking early. We hit some fun bars in Greenpoint and stopped in to see a friend, then crossed the bridge and hit one more bar in LIC before getting to the family fun of the fireworks. Woo-Hoo, what fun. We found a spot to roll out the blanket, grabbed some warm Coors Lites from the concession stand and prepared to be WOWED! We waited and drank, waited and drank. Things get pretty hazy here on out.
While we waited, as I recall, I struck up a conversation with an interesting southern gentleman. We spoke for quite a while about the pope shitting in the woods and this and that. Several minutes before the fireworks were about go off he offered us a hit from a vape pen. Believe it or not we have inhaled marijuana before, so I said "sure, why not enjoy a little weed to enhance the fireworks"? So we partake. I take a good size drag from the slim vape pen and I immediately begin to cough uncontrollably. I'm literally rolling on the ground at this point. Jen has the same reaction. The coughing stops and we immediately start feeling the effects of what we have inhaled. Wow! This shit is good. We both have huge smiles on our face. But it doesn't stop there. The high is getting higher. The fireworks begin and we are now blown away. "Wow, is everyone else seeing this", I say to myself. This is amazing. It turns out these fireworks are like an hour long and we just keep getting higher. I'm enjoying it but I'm also thinking something isn't right. "This is amazing. Is everyone else seeing this?"
The fireworks have ended. What just happened? For some reason we were not coming down from our one hit of a vape pen. Everyone has left the area and Jen and I are sitting on a step trying to get our shit together. We are trying to figure out what we had inhaled. At one point in a lull in the fireworks Jen heard the southern gentleman's wife ask in a concerned, cautious voice, "Oh you gave them some?". This left us with questions. I'm a big guy. I weigh between 250-260 lately. One hit of weed shouldn't have me sitting on a step questioning the existence of life in the middle of an emptying park, after an amazing fireworks display, at 10:30pm on July 4th, with my sunglasses on an hour after smoking it. But like the super heroes we are, we gathered all our experiences that got us to this point in life, got up from that step and made our way into LIC to find an UBER. Our after plan to walk back to Greenpoint had fallen apart.
We got home that night a little after midnight. I walked through the threshold of our apartment with my sunglasses on, and it occurred to me I had them on the entire day, I only took them off for the photo above. What a sight we must have been. Never take candy from strangers? We have tried to figure out what happened that night. Was it the heat and alcohol? Are we getting to old for this shit? Was that liquid ecstasy, LSD or just some really strong THC oil? We probably should have asked? Nah. Who would have thought to do that? It will always be up for discussion, but I think the southern gentleman with the vape pen made those fireworks more interesting than ever. Our hats off to you fine sir.
Our Anniversary Part 1
July 5, 2018 was a surprisingly good morning. Jen was up and off to work. I was up and feeling pretty good. In two days we would be on a plane and heading down to the Turks & Caicos to celebrate our 20th anniversary. I had some errands to do and chores around the apartment to get done before our trip. I would start packing once these things were done. By the afternoon I started to feel a bit hungover. I was still questioning the things that happened the night before. I chalked it up as another night in New York City. New York City is my scapegoat for anything I don't want to take responsibility for.
What happened next was all me. It was all my fault. Around 5pm that day I decided to start packing. I thought I'd get all the papers together for the flight, hotel, car rental and cat sitter. With flight comes passport. I get my passport out and look at the dates. What the Hell! My heart stopped beating for a few seconds and then sank to my toes. I looked at the expiration date on my passport thinking it would change. It just couldn't be correct. It was. Panic set in. My passport expired in May.
The thing is, I knew this. The year before on our 19th anniversary Jen's passport had expired and she was stuck in Fort Lauderdale while I was on Harbor Island in the Bahamas. She missed three full days of vacation because of this. She had to Uber to Miami and go to the passport office to get an expedited renewed passport to travel from Fort Lauderdale to Harbor Island, Bahamas. We checked mine at that time and I knew I had to renew my passport a year ago, I just forgot to do it.
To make a long story short, I made some panicked calls to and read a bunch of yelp reviews about the New York Passport Agency. What I was told was that if I had all the correct information, my expired passport, passport photos and $170, I could get in line early on Friday morning and most likely walk out with a new passport by noon. Hallelujah! That night I got my photos taken at the local Duane Reade, collected all the correct information and my expired passport, took a shower, set my alarm for 4:30am and went to bed. You read that right, 4:30am. I was up and standing first in line at the West Village New York Passport Agency, 376 Hudson at Houston Street, by 4:45am. I repeat, first in line at 4:45am Friday morning. The second in line would arrive ten minutes later. By the time the doors opened at 7:30am there were hundreds of people in line. It began raining about 6am. People were actually trying to butt in front of me. It wasn't going to happen. I got pretty angry with a few people who decided it would be best to move on. I was the first one in at 7:30am and out with a passport by 11:30am with a smile and feeling relieved. Mistake corrected! Now, off to Turks & Caicos for some fun in the sun.