It was Tuesday, October 18, 1988. I was off to New York.
My pal Rich stopped by around 6:30AM; I ran down to the street lugging my duffel and suit bags, threw them in the back of his ’82 Accord, and away we went, through the claustrophobic crack-alley of my street down to LaFayette, and thence to Highway 3 and, finally, 494 to the airport.
My flight left at 7:30; I made it in plenty of time by the standards of those pre-9/11 days. It was the first I’d been in a plane since the summer of ’82, when I went to Europe. It was cool but pleasant out, with scattered breaks in an overcast sky. I sat in a window seat, and watched the bustle of the airport turn into the blur of takeoff, the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers and the southeast suburbs and the farmland of western Wisconson flling away and, finally, the sense of flying over miles of gauze as the plane reached cruising altitude over a wall-to-wall overcast, somewhere over Cheese country.
It was three or so hours later that the plane dropped through the overcast somewhere over the water, on final approach to LaGuardia. The disconcerting part, for me, was seeing nothing but human edifices for as far as the eye could see – not a significant stretch of unblemished green anywhere in sight.
I kinda dug it.
I got my luggage, and walked through
I walked out onto the concourse in front of the terminal and hailed a cab. “Union Square”, I told the rumpled looking Russian driver.
We pulled out onto the freeway, and then over to the BQE, my sense of direction doing flip-flops…
…until I saw the twin towers of the World Trade Center to the southwest. Now I knew where I was.
I got out of the cab near 12th and Broadway, by the Strand Bookstore, and walked up Broadway, looking for the address. It took me a couple of tries, but I found the door, and rang the bell.
My long-lost second cousin and his wife were both big-time executives with Wall Street firms. They had a brand-new baby – maybe six weeks old – and a nanny…
…and a loft apartment straight out of Architectural Digest, seven floors above Broadway. A huge rehabbed industrial space with newly-varnished floors, with a raised kitchen with all-brushed-stainless-steel appliances way back before brushed stainless steel was cool, and three bedrooms spaced around the back of the huge open “living room”, with a gorgous view of the Village out the eight-foot-tall windows over Broadway, this was not, I figured, your typical “New To New York” setup.
My cousins – and their nanny, a sixty-something Queens native who sounded for all the world like a less-screechy Edith Bunker – welcomed me to New York, made dinner, and debriefed me on the last ten years of all of our lives.
I shared a room with the baby but, I was informed, only for two nights. They’d be going out of town on Thursday, and I’d have the place to myself for the rest of my week in the city.
I got my suit situated, and got ready for the next morning. It was going to be a busy couple of days.