Saturday, November 17....
Our friends actually got their car out of storage, because they wanted to go and see The Cloisters with us. The Cloisters is a part of the Metropolitan Museum which was build to resemble a medieval monastery (some of the architecture, including doors, etc. are actually from monasteries in Europe). Lots of medieval paintings, tapestries, and sculptures, all pre-reformation. At one point our friends turned to me and said, "So what did Martin Luther do that was so great?"... which prompted a mini-Reformation history lesson.
The Cloisters is on the tip of upper Manhattan, in a wooded area you can't even imagine exists until you get there. I wish we had pictures to show the fall beauty all around the area. We spent all morning roaming around, until suddenly we realized we needed to get back to meet a pastor friend of my husband's. So we rushed back, and caught a subway down to Greenwich Village, where we met another friend -- this time under the Washington Square Arch.
He took us to a little noodle restaurant in the area, and learned a little about how he was doing. He had been a pastor in NewJersey at the time of 9/11, and several people from his congregation were missing after that day, their cars abandoned at the train station. It was a hard time for the small congregation, and a few years ago, he had a severe stroke. He now is able to work 10 hours a week. At one point, he confessed to not being able to follow part of our conversation. I was tempted to feel sorry for him, but he went on to say that he thought he was doing pretty well. "After all," he said, "I'm alive." I'll remember that short sentence for a long time. He also invited us to come back to New York, and stay with his family.
Later, we took the 1 train (our friend!) back to Upper Manhattan. We were a little alarmed when the train skipped several stops before 34th street. We weren't sure what was going on, but there was some kind of work going on, and some of the stops were closed -- just going north. Our friends D and A had invited us over to their house for supper at 7:00 -- homemade lasagne, created by D, salad and ice cream for dessert. Afterwards A had gotten reservations at an Uptown Jazz Club called Smoke, where we heard a be-bop group, featuring drummer Louis Hayes. It was a great atmosphere -- made us wish, though, that we hadn't had dessert! When the show started at 10:00, the first words from the small stage were: "It's Saturday night, and this is New York City!"
The club was cozy, with small tables and sofas in the back, and plush red curtains hanging throughout. D thought that the set was a little too short, but at 11:15, we were sadly up past our bedtime already.
(A word about our building: large, old building -- the rooms had been redecorated and the bathrooms new. Our blow dryer didn't work, and all of the hotel phone went out on Friday night for awhile. Also, one of the hotel elevators was kind of scary-looking, really small with gang markings on it. There was another, newer elevator, but we didn't find it until we were almost ready to leave.)
Sunday, November 18...
we ate breakfast at another wonderful little New York diner called Key West, where they know how to keep the coffee coming, and keep people moving through!
At 11:00 we met our friends again at a church they attend, Advent Lutheran. Pastor Elise Brown preached that morning, and there was a baptism: quite an event when a baby is not just sprinkled, but dipped naked into the font and then clothed in a towel and shown around to the cheering congregation. This was the tradition of the family's culture, we were told. I was impressed by the diversity, and openness. I really enjoyed worshiping with them, but again we had to rush off after worship to meet with a friend of my husband's, who lived down in Soho.
We ate at a cosmopolitan little place where there was a duo playing guitar and bass, and an international crew talking about world issues. Then took a short tour of the neighborhood, and learned a creative way to get back uptown for our luggage since we discovered that our beloved number 1 train did not stop at this station!
We were sad to leave New York, to get on a plane which would leave at 6:00 p.m., and sadder still when we discovered that our flight would be delayed! I would have loved one more hour to walk around in Central Park, to shop at Macy's, stop in at Rockefeller Center. In fact, I'm already planning out next itinerary, which includes:
A show at Radio City Music Hall
more Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Ellis Island Immigration Museum