1) Up at 7 AM after a reasonable night's sleep. I slipped into some clothes and downstairs to the lounge for two complimentary coffees to bring back upstairs. Those two coffees got me through packing my anvil case.
2) A bit after 9:30 AM I sallied forth in the bitterly cold streets, heading a few blocks down Sixth to meet my friend Travis for brunch at Rooftop Refinery. Passing Bryant Park (essentially a solid block of ice), I noticed half a dozen puffed-up pigeons fixed to the top of a subway vent.
3) In the next blocks, several tourist souvenir shops reminded me of the lyric from Chess "Trinkets in airports sufficient to lead them astray."
4) Refinery Hotel looks quite posh, but the 13th-floor rooftop wasn't open until exactly 10 AM; my hopes of an early coffee at the bar were dashed, but I had to go all the way up to the 13th floor to discover that the elevator doors wouldn't open. So I ensconced myself with Daily Rituals in the chilly lobby and was able to greet Travis with open arms as soon as he walked in.
5) As it happens, and this might not surprise you, we opened the restaurant as the first breakfast patrons of the day. And I heartily advise you go, and go early! Trademarked Authentic Rustic Charm in spades, and a glassed-in rooftop flooded with sunlight (and sufficiently heated post-bombogenesis) and dotted with cushioned patio furniture made a charming way to start off a Saturday. We sat under an arbor ("I hope no one thinks this is a chupa!" I said) and discussed the development world and Life at Mid-Career and Patty Duke.
6) Travis walked me back to the Algonk, and then I underwent that half-hour when one is all packed and ready to go, but it isn't yet time to leave. A sense of deflation at having to depart, coupled with a shade of anxiety about making the proper connections. The floor seems very very flat, the ceilings very tall, the waiting both tiring and unnerving.
7) I checked out and crossed the threshold of the Algonquin, hoping to return soon, and made a chilly way to Times Square to catch the subway. Delighted to discover the elevator!
8) I'd thought about taking a taxi, but it turned out to be easy-peasy to get from the Algonk to Bean and Bean on 8th and 26th. And there I got to see Anthony (see above), one of my best friends from high school who I had not seen in far too long. Over hot beverages we talked about travel and mutual friends. When his friend Pedro joined us, then we talked of dance, Postmodern Jukebox, Puddles' Pity Party, and the weather. Particularly in relation to all the flooding in Provincetown.
9) Anthony and Pedro were off to the Whitney, and I wended my way, anvils in tow, to Penn Station, where I enjoyed a late lunch of salmon salad (with lardons of bacon, white beans, and wilted spinach - not really what I'd call a salad), wrote in my journal, and meditated on life.
10) Impulsively, I ducked into Perf****** and bought a bottle of 4711, which I haven't used in awhile. I forget where I first read about it - might've been Lesley M.M. Blume's Let's Bring Back - but it's something fresh for a bitter winter.
11) The waiting room was jammed, but eventually I found a seat next to a Woman Younger Than I who almost immediately asked what I'd gotten at Perf******. This led to a discussion of Marie Antoinette's perfumes and the book that came out a few years ago about her perfumer Fargeon. Since scent is clearly this young woman's thing (and she confessed as much) I think she's going to have a great time reading that book.
12) But I got a little uncomfortable when she asked to plug her charger into my laptop, even though I acquiesced. But by then it was almost train time, and I left the waiting room to stand with other travelers watching the board for a track assignment.
13) I ended up in conversation with another Woman Younger Than I and her very young daughter, who'd never been in Penn Station before. "Oh, this special circle of Dante's Hell!" I joked, to general laughter.
14) After the usual chaotic bustle down the escalator to board, I managed a seat in the quiet car (next to someone). I got some writing done, but my concentration was compromised. I was reduced to sorting bookmarks in my browser, which was at least productive.
15) I'd thought about taking a cab home from Back Bay Station, and then economically took the Ligne d'Orange anyway. Somehow I forgot that with all the bombogenesis snow, all the sidewalks might just not be ready for a rollerbag. So I ended up walking in the streets a bit, but got home safe and sound to a warm house with intact plumbing and shoveled steps and walks.
16) I'm happy now to be home for one full day before returning full time to the office. This little New Year's vacation was too brief, and I sure didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see, but I managed to do a lot anyway.