After about an hour, I settled in. I arrived. I was in a city. In and settled. Whenever I note how long I take to transition to a new situation, I note how I often noted how long it took my kid to transition to a new situation. I guess I got that from me, I now note.
Jared and I had a good, long date, which doesn’t happen all that often. After dropping Beren at camp, we decided to drive to Jersey City. I haven’t been there in over twenty years, last visiting when a friend lived there.
Jared and I walked and walked, looping through Jersey City. We watched vendors set up at the farmer’s market. Mused about “plant rentals” as advertised on the side of a parked van. Stopped in at WORD, a bookstore, and I mused aloud how many bookstores had ample stationary sections. And what did I purchase? A book? No, a really great birthday card for a friend.
A cafe was the next agenda. We walked. That’s what we’re very good at.
We peered in the window of a mystifying establishment with white curtains and absolutely no name that I could observe. It was a bar. A very brightly lit bar. The bartender was friendly and amused that I hadn’t realized the place was a bar. It seemed so bright. Are bars bright now? It’s been awhile. Add pregnancy (nine months) to the age of my son, that’s how long it’s been. We moved on, looking for a place with outdoor seating.
A few blocks away, I got an iced double decaf espresso (or something like that because I couldn’t get a decaf iced coffee) at a cafe (which uses Square which automatically sent me a text message saying I was a member of the cafe, etc. I gotta call up Square and get my personal data expunged, thanks). When I bused our dishes to the counter, the barista said, “Please put those in the bin with the sign that says ‘dirty dishes’.” She pointed behind me.
I squinted. I squinted again. I found the sign that said ‘dirty dishes’. The sign was 1/4” high and 3” long. The word ‘dirty dishes’ was about 1/16” high and 1.5” long. My eyes are too old for that. My grandfather’s magnifying glass should have been in my inheritance, except I was a young smart/ss like the barista when he died. Hindsight is squinty in middle age.
We walked some more, enjoying the architecture of the neighborhood, and then gardens in Van Vorst Park, which included native wildflowers. Kids clamored in the splash park. “Did you have splash parks in Rahway?” Jared asked. He described racing through splash parks, which were pipes spurting water during the hot summer months. “No, there was a lake that you couldn’t go in. No splash park.”
We lingered until rush hour passed. We walked and then we walked back to the car. Taking a left out of Jersey City, we followed signs for 1 and 9. The sun set over the Pulaski Skyway, and we drove home in the dark.