I wrote this a while ago, but I just found it again (I pictured it being the introduction to the kind of little gifty book they sell at Anthropologie, maybe one day) and got a little laugh remembering how crazy that time was.

Our relationship started out so easily. It was fun, romantic, pretty normal. We met through mutual friends, wrote witty emails, drunkenly hooked up, then got bagels the next morning. We had six months of exciting weekends, adrenaline on the train from New York to Boston, watching football and doing crosswords, going out in New York, feeling like we were the only ones in the world. When he moved to New York I moved perhaps too much stuff into his apartment lived out of a bag until we moved in together. Then we moved to Brazil, a whole chapter in itself and on July 2nd, 2010, we were exchanging text messages as I moved through customs on a flight back from London (I know this is illegal, sorry.) You’re going out with your friends? Sure, no problem, I’ll drop my stuff and come meet you. Welcome back to America, and then he was there. In a suit. With my name on a sign, blending in with the drivers. But as I walked over, the sign flipped and it said will you marry me on it. I was shocked, there was a ring, laughing, tears, a BMW Zipcar to take us back to our Brooklyn apartment. Our families were there. We were very, very happy.

Then we started planning the wedding.

I was never the kind of girl who knew all along what my wedding was going to look like. Mostly, I thought it would be a low key thing, and I certainly never thought I would be the first of my close girlfriends to get engaged and have to encounter all of the questions that wedding planning entailed. There are. so. Many. questions. I am not a perfectionist, I never have been. Apparently, though, I was somewhere in the most difficult zone of bride, where I didn’t care enough to really take ownership of the process and I was reluctant about choosing aspects that I didn’t consider important, yet I cared far too much to give someone else the ball (my mother, for example. To say she was ready to run with it is an understatement.)

And so, the next sixteen months unfolded in a way that made me crazy. The thing is, it seems like lots of brides need therapists during the wedding planning experience. I talked to not just a few who found themselves in one moment or another acting so outrageously out of character that they needed to call in someone else to help restore their sanity. Someone who didn’t know their mother, or husband, or mother-in-law, or petulant sister or maid of honor and could objectively remind them to take some good, long deep breaths.

My own moment occurred sometime during the summer of 2010, on the southwest corner of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue in New York. My now husband and I had just looked at our first wedding venue together, the Foundry in Long Island City. For whatever reason it included something like me jumping up and down, screaming at the top of my lungs, “I hate the spring!” repeatedly. Apparently, I couldn’t possibly get married in the spring.

I’m normally a pretty rational person, low-key, even. Possibly easy-going and accommodating. This was not my usual behavior.

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We went on Sunday night to see The Merchant of Venice in Central Park. My parents had bought tickets to take other friends and for a variety of reasons, Scott and I got to go instead. It’s only the second or third time I’ve seen professional Shakespeare and I forgot how it is light years away from Dee Brown’s cultish productions at the Emelin Theater in Mamaroneck with my friends trying to get all of the lines out. This was not that.  Any anxiety about not being able to follow along with the plot or understand who was who was totally unfounded. Al Pacino played Shylock, but he was not the best of the cast. Also, Phillip Seymour Hoffman was sitting a few rows ahead of us. Sweaty in a well worn orange baseball cap, I can’t help but wonder if he’s friends with Mario Batali, they look a bit like kindred spirits.

Musical Farming

June 18, 2010

Things have been quiet around here, hence the lack of posting. We’ve just been doing our thing, hanging out, watching the World Cup. I’ve been working on my profile of Vik Muniz, and am newly inspired by this week’s New Yorker issue on 20 writers under 40 to get writing.  At least I still have 12 (and a bit ) years to make it.

I did see the musical Hair with my mom on Wednesday night. I hadn’t seen any version of it since I was a little kid, and I don’t think I got all of it now. It’s interesting to see it forty years after it opened.  They address race, gender, and war/politics in important ways that I think people can’t anymore.  Everyone’s supposed to be past everything now, all of these things non-issues (maybe not the war part), but I think it would still be useful to include these things more often. The cast was extremely talented, with great voices and an amazing amount of energy. They all got naked at one point, which was also kind of interesting, and at the end they invited the whole audience up onto the stage and everyone danced together, letting the sun shine in…

I also would like to mention how smitten I am with the Borough Hall farmer’s market. I’m just getting used the fact that it’s going to be there every Tuesday and Thursday and I don’t have to rush to buy more arugula and blueberries than we’re ever going to eat.  It’s pretty awesome.

Running today felt like running in Rio all over again.  I sought out any bit of shade and turned down the leafiest streets.  By the end, my mouth was super dry.  I was trying to figure out how I would I describe that intensely pasty-mouth feeling.  It was something like scotch tape inside my mouth, or like I had swallowed a bottle of soy sauce without a sip of water.  Needless to say, sort of unpleasant.

I also think that it’s cooler in Brooklyn than in Manhattan.  It’s breezier, the heat does vibrate so aggressively between the sidewalk and buildings and the sticky asphalt.  It’s more pleasant and breezy.  When it’s 92, it’s still hot, but a little more manageable, escapable. When I got back from Brazil I was so used to the heat, to being hot all the time, to sweating.  I was cold when it was 68 degrees and wanted a sweater. I hope my blood thins out again easily now that it’s hot in New York, too.

Zip Car

May 24, 2010

We had our first foray into Zip Car yesterday. I signed up on Friday and went to their office to pick up my card in possibly one of the least fun places to be in the city (31st and Broadway), especially when it’s 85 degrees.  We had initially reserved a car for the afternoon to go to the amazing furniture place in Greenpoint (whose name I still won’t disclose) and wound up switching plans to go to Philadelphia for Barbara’s birthday.  Yesterday morning we woke up, walked over to Montague Street, got in a little red Mazda and drove the 99 miles.  After a great day with the Behars (and maybe the most delicious carrot cake cupcakes I have ever had) we drove back, filling up the gas tank with their gas card and blowing through the EZ Pass lanes with their included EZ Pass.  A few hours later we were back in Brooklyn.  We dropped off the car, locked it back up with my card and we were done.  It was pretty damn easy.  So far? Pretty impressed.

Throw Backs

May 21, 2010

This New York Times article is pertinent to my last post…

I realize that I have been neglecting this blog.  For those of you who are still reading, I’ll keep writing. If there’s something you would like to see more of, let me know, or less of, let me know that, too.

Yesterday after catching up with Claire, then my dad, then my old boss, then my friend Suzie (it’s nice to have friends and other people in our lives), I went to a New York Historical Society lecture on how Greenwich Village came about, how it represented the art world and Bohemia in New York.  It was interesting to hear how the Sixth Avenue El train divided the tawdry, darker part of the city–with its own confusing grid–from the upscale Washington Square Park. About an hour ago I walked around that area with a slightly different view. It sad that so many of the beautiful buildings have been torn down.

As I was walking down said Sixth Avenue, a little higher up, in the low 20s, I walked past the old Limelight Club, which is now a super high-end sort of mall, an even fancier, more expensive Chelsea Market with food stalls, perfume boutiques, a Grimaldi’s coming soon, Petrossian. It’s sort of disgusting, and also fascinating how a church could become an ecstasy riddled nightclub which is later transformed into an overly precious bazar for over-priced cheese, gelato, soaps and bed linens.

Solitude

May 12, 2010

Today was the first day I spent a considerable amount of time alone in what feels like a long, long time.  Since we’ve gotten back from Brazil, Scott and I have spent pretty much every day together.  Even when we’ve done different things, we’ve been staying in houses where other people live, and have had to converse and interact, and in so many ways, at this point, we’re extensions of each other.  For months now, there’s been someone to say something to when I’ve had something to say. In Brazil, we were also constantly together, and when he left a few weeks before me, I was staying with Edite and Karen, who’s houses are full of people and conversation.  The days all had activities, planned by and including the sisters.  Then Lindsay came, and we were together for over a week. Language and talking poured out of both of us as we went to Juquehy and to Rio.  As close friends who hadn’t seen each other for a year, there was so much to say.

Scott had his first day of work today and it’s quiet here.  It’s been pleasant, lovely almost, the quiet, but it’s something to get used to again.  It’s the first time I’ve lived in New York without a job to go to every day.  I’m planning on spending the summer freelance writing and taking some pre-req classes for SIPA.  I think I have to get used to being alone again.  It’s been quite a long time.  It’s sort of shocking to me how foreign it feels.  I had always prided myself on being extremely independent, spending so much time by myself before I met Scott, in Vietnam and in New York.  I hadn’t realized that I was out of practice.  I never thought of it as a thing I would have to relearn.  But here I am, in a very quiet apartment, after spending much of the day by myself, readjusting.

Pineapple Street

May 4, 2010

We’re getting ready to move again.  If all goes well today, the people who live in the apartment we want to rent will be relocating to their brand new apartment a few blocks away, a cleaning service will scour the 1300 square foot space tomorrow, and on Thursday, we’ll be able to move our things in.  Scott and I have been without our own apartment for a long time.  We moved from Rio to Sao Paulo on December 2nd, dismantling something quite comfortable.  We lived in the flat at the Staybridge Suites until February, the two of us in one room, trying not to trip over one another and cooking all of our meals on one electric burner. From February on, we’ve been moving.  We stayed with Paulo and Edite for a week, then it was off to the north–to Pipa, Fortaleza, Jericoacoara, Salvador, Morro de Sao Paulo, Belo-Horizonte, Tiradentes, then back to Paulo and Edite’s, then Juquehy, and then Tryp with Lucy.  When Scott left (where he began the bounce between New York and Philadelphia) I stayed with Karen and Andre, then back with Paulo and Edite, and back and forth until Lindsay came and we went to Juquehy, then back to Sao Paulo, then to Rio.  Since I’ve come back to the US, Scott and I have alternated between our parents’ houses, added in a trip to North Carolina, a stay at the Holiday Inn on 26th Street.

This is all a long way of saying it’s time for us to have a place to live, to take all of our stuff out of storage, to have everything in the same apartment.  It will be nice to take stock of what we have and discover things we haven’t seen in a while.  I hope everything goes well, and we can move in, no snags.  For now, we’ll be driving back from Philadelphia to New York, after having packed up again last night.

Brazilians for Lunch

April 18, 2010

We had the cousins over for lunch yesterday.  My mom wanted everything to be perfect.  She’s a proud hostess, and after reading and hearing about life in their Sao Paulo and Belo-Horizonte homes, she was determined to show she could lay everything out perfectly, too.  It was a bit of a carb-a-palooza, with bagels and smoked salmon, coffee cake, croissants (chocolate and regular), quiche, fruit, salad, dessert.  It was fun to have them all here at my parents house, for my parents to finally meet them.  They filled the house with gifts and their voices, and stories.  I can’t thank the cousins enough for coming, for allowing this meeting to happen, for the sides of my family to come together and share a meal, put faces with names.

Little Big

April 15, 2010

Tuesday night we took over Perbacco, a tiny restaurant on 4th and B.  It was Scott’s family and all of the Brazilian cousins–Edite, Karen, Elen and Marjory. We filled probably three quarters of the space and we were all so excited to see each other that our voices reverberated off the walls.  It was wonderful to talk to our Brazilian family again and to spend time with them.  They were so important for the past year, our closest friends and family and I had missed them.  They’re so charming in fact, that rather than the manager being annoyed at our effervescence, he sent us a bottle of champagne for dessert.

From the tiny-ness of Perbacco we went to Woodbury Commons for the most massive shop-a-thon I have ever seen.  Our cousins were prepared, toting with them rolling suitcases to hold all of their purchases as they perused, tried on and bought things from 10.30am until we left at 6.15pm.  It was impressive–a feat of strength of I have ever seen one.

The role reversal is fun.  It’s great to be able to feel competent again here in the US, to show our visiting family that we are capable of doing things ourselves.  In some circumstances we can even be helpful.

New York, NY

April 13, 2010

I’ve been a bad blogger, and busy, and not near a computer.  I apologize for the excuses, but being back where we have friends and family, time is filled, it’s richer and more fun, less lonely, but also not conducive to blogging.

On Friday I spent the day at NYU, moving through their admitted students day, listening to everything they could offer me.  I was impressed, but I think Columbia is still calling my name.  I just accepted my offer there, so…here I go! Then I walked around Soho and went to meet my friend Emily for drinks.  I walked into Park Bar, one of the few good ones extremely close to Union Square, and there was Marshall’s friend Deb having drinks with another girl I went to high school with.  A few minutes later my brother’s best friend in the world walked into the bar as well.  It was good to see them and reminded me of how random New York is a lot of the time.  I love those moments.

Today is my mom’s 60th birthday, and we spent yesterday doing the day her way.  We went to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, followed by a stroll around Brooklyn Heights.  We then moved up to the High Line, which was packed with people basking in the sun, had burgers at Corner Bistro and ice cream from the Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck.  It was such scene down in that area, with stylish girls and guys packing the streets, chatting and being visible.  Now I’m back in Philadelphia for the next few days.  I’ll try to get better about blogging again, promise.

We spent yesterday looking for apartments again.  We walked all over the Upper West Side with a few different brokers, looking at one shoebox after another.  Some had gorgeous kitchens, others had big outdoor spaces, some were on the top floor of sixth floor walk ups.  None were perfect.  We walked up to 89th street, to an apartment that we had seen that Scott liked that I was luke warm on.  I tried to sell myself on the area.  We stopped, exhausted, to get a drink at a restaurant and regroup and I burst into tears.  I realized I didn’t want to live up there, and Scott never had, he just felt like it made the most sense considering I had gotten into Columbia.  So we switched gears, drove down to Brooklyn Heights and looked at my parents’ friends’ son’s apartment that he’s moving out of soon.  It’s a 1300 square foot loft.  The commute will be a drag at times, I’m sure, but it’s kind of a no brainer. Scott and I have talked about getting an enormous dining table and having weekly Friday night dinners at our place.  Friends, will you come out to Brooklyn?

We left Brooklyn, elated and went to dinner with a big group of my high school friends.  I can’t say this emphatically enough–it was so good to see them.  I hadn’t realized how much I missed having friends–close friends, friends I know well and have known for a long time.  It really felt like coming home.  Later on I met up with friends from school, some visiting from Vancouver and caught up with them as well, before meeting up with Scott and his friends again.  The Lower East Side and East Village were packed–maybe because it was such a beautiful day, maybe it was Spring fever, but it seemed like everything was so alive and pulsing almost.  I know I won’t get many of those first nights back after so long and I’ve seen almost everyone now, but it just felt so special.

Running Around

April 1, 2010

I’m sorry I haven’t posted much–I haven’t really been home, or near a computer.  When I landed the day before yesterday (which seems hard to believe), I went directly into the city to meet Scott and we started looking for apartments.  Yesterday I spent all day at Columbia, which was great–they sold me on their program, and while I still want to give NYU a shot, it looks like things are working out.  I’m excited about what’s coming next.  We had a little fun last night–went to Momofuku with Emily and then caught up with Andrew and Amy, which was great.  It’s nice to have friends again–easy, close, good friends.

We spent today looking for apartments as well, at least this time in the sunshine, and are still looking.

Nova Iorque

March 15, 2010

It looks like Scott and I will be in New York this fall and for the next few years.  My some miracle, I managed to get myself into graduate school.  It was a good day.  I’m excited that the uncertainty is mostly gone and we can move onto the next thing, find an apartment that’s ours for a few years and dig into working and school.  I can’t speak for Scott, but I’m ready to work hard and focus on actually building toward a career after such a wonderful year in Brazil.  Wahoo!

And does anyone know any urban planning firms that might want a summer intern?

New York Eu Te Amo

January 5, 2010

We saw New York I love You last night.  It’s funny that it’s playing in theaters here.  We both agreed that some of the vignettes are more successful than others, but it was fun to watch.  The New York saudades kicked in.  I know New York so much better than any other city.

Scott and I had a great day yesterday walking around New York.  It was fun to be back someplace so familiar, trying to figure out if we could just eat all of our favorite things while traversing downtown.  We started off by his old apartment in the East Village and stopped in at Veselka for some pierogis, then strolled over to Soho, looped around to meet up with Emily, and then went toward 10 Downing and Murray’s Cheese.  After popping into a few bookstores we wound up at Mercadito on B for tacos and then Ryan’s to watch the Phillies beat the Dodgers.

Brazilians have this term saudades, that’s somewhere between longings, nostalgia and missing something.  I definitely have saudades for New York a little bit, and at this point, for Rio, too.

Reverse Xenophobe

October 19, 2009

When we arrived in Houston for our layover before coming to New York, I had a tough time communicating with people there.  We went through customs and stopped to get breakfast.  Scott happily got potatoes and biscuits and bacon and sat down to eat.  I was looking for a buttered roll and an ice coffee and had a hell of a time getting it.  I had to go over to the sandwich station, and just before I could get the guy’s attention another woman swooped in before me.

“Is that your chicken salad?”

“It’s this one, ma’am.” Indicating a tub of bland glop.

“Is there much mayonnaise in that?”

“No ma’am, not too much.”

“Hmmm, and what about the tuna?”  It’s 7am.

“About the same, ma’am.”

“And the turkey?”

This went on for another five minutes until the woman told me to go ahead while she wrestled with processed proteins.  I asked for my roll, which then went to get heated.  Then he didn’t have butter, but said the cashier would.  The cashier didn’t.  She said I had to get it “over there,” without indicating where “over there” was.  She said ask someone.  There was no one in sight behind the counter to ask.  Finally I got some.  Then I asked if they had ice coffee, she looked at me like I was crazy.  Then she asked what I got.  A roll.  She had no idea what to charge.  Time to call a manager.  The whole interaction took until it was time for us to board our plane to La Guardia and we were almost going to be late.

I walked down the jetway berating Americans, recounting the idiocy of the past half an hour.  No interaction in Brazil has been that frustrating, mostly because I’m more patient there, I should have difficulty communicating.  Scott called me a reverse xenophobe.

I’m happy to say that a few wonderful days in Philly, a super fun wedding, and a full day in New York today went a long way toward restoring my faith in my communication abilities.

Continental

September 17, 2009

I got into a taxi to go to Galeao last night, and the driver and I had the best conversation I had had in Portuguese since arriving in Brazil.  We chatted about the Olympics, and my time in the city, where I learned to speak his language.  Then he took the stupidest way to the airport and as we sat in bumper to bumper traffic I strategized what I was going to do when I missed my 9pm flight.  It was a grittier highway than I had been on, snaking past Praca XV, cars inching toward the bridge to Niteroi.  Exhaust streamed in his open window and I fumed.

I got lucky arriving at the airport, and the lovely women at the Continental desk took pity on my screeching up to her 35 minutes before my flight was to take off.  She handed me a boarding pass and I sprinted through security and to my gate.  I then sat on the mostly empty plane for the next ten hours, until we touched down at Bush International Airport in Houston.  It was odd to be back in the US, not saying disculpe all the time.  The customs woman was confused.  You’ve been in Brazil for three months? And you haven’t taken any classes? Or worked anywhere?  I said that I had been traveling.  What’s your occupation? I was traveling with my boyfriend, he’s still there. Ahhh, she got it.  I went through the cavernous, stark airport at 6am.   I bought a Starbucks iced coffee (one of the things I miss most in Brazil) and headed to my connecting gate.

When I landed at La Guardia at 11am it was gray and drizzly, and we drove through the surface streets of Queens.  By the time I got to my house the day had slipped into Autumn crispness, with some sunshine.  It’s great to have all of the Lewys home, in the same place.  I’m glad I don’t have to miss a minute.

Carioca Hiatus

September 16, 2009

I decided at the last minute to make a quick trip to New York this weekend.  My entire family–both brothers and their wives, my nephew, my grandma Janice and my Grandpa Rudy are all going to be there, we’re doing an unveiling for my Grandma Esther and I didn’t want to miss anything.

While I’m, of course, super excited to see everyone (ecstatic!) I feel weird about going home.  I wasn’t ready yet.  We just got here, and we had planned all along to go home together in October.  I know that I’m not banished here in Brazil, that planes fly here and back to New York and all over the place just like they always have.  There’s nothing sticking me to this spot.  It’s just strange.  There’s a part of me that thinks this whole Brazilian life is so fragile that it might just slip away in the few days that I’m gone.  Scott and I have talked so much about the things at home that we’re so excited to re-experience together (Seeing all of our family and friends, speaking Portuguese like it’s our secret code, General Tso’s, Momofuku pork buns,) that it’s weird to be going back without him.  I’m flying through Houston.  I’m not sure I’ve ever flown through Houston before, but I’m not ready for the super-sized American-ness of it (especially when I’m generally mad at Republicans for making the Health Care bill so watery and disappointing).

I’m sad I’ve given up the opportunity to spend the Jewish holidays in Sao Paulo, eating Brazilian food rather than stuffed cabbage. (Karen, Elen and Edite, I will email you as soon as I’m done writing this.)  All of this said, getting over my idea that going home is a weakness, when it’s just a choice to get on an airplane, I can’t wait to see everyone, to hug parents and my whole family, to run around Larchmont and hear first hand what’s going on with everyone not through skype.

Since Scott’s still going to Sao Paulo I’m going to try to guilt him into guest blogging for me.  We’ll see if it works.