On Montclair, Edison, Montville and… Queens

Or, on learning when to say no.  Last weekend, I found myself in a post-finals haze of joy and delirium.  I went straight from my exam to dinner with a friend to dessert and more dessert with said friend.  A brief visit to Montclair, NJ quickly turned into a full-blown farewell party with Harleen.  I presented her with a mixtape to mark the occasion, and we embarked on our “trip” (Montclair is about an hour’s drive from New Brunswick).  We had dinner at Cuban Pete’s, a vibrant Montclair hotspot, drank sangria and reminisced about our Henry James class.  This was followed by not one but two dessert places; delicate lavender and honey macarons, followed by graham-cracker flavoured ice-cream from Applegate Farms.  Both of us in a slightly-delirious food-coma, we drove back to New Brunswick.  Deciding to prolong our fun, Harleen invited me to sleep over!  We went back to her family home in Edison.  We watched The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and her mum made pancakes in the morning.

I was back in my apartment for approximately seven minutes before I had to leave again, to visit another friend’s family home.  Jenan, overachiever and all-round goddess, invited us (twelve endlessly grateful international students) to her beautiful house in Montville.  Thrilled to be presented with a home-cooked meal (my second in one day!), and to be hanging out with my friends in Jenan’s (vast) back garden, my post-exam weekend was perfect, and filled with friends, food and laughter.  Even if we did get kicked out of a lake-side country club.

However, all play and no rest makes for a tired girl.  Unfortunately, the “you can sleep when you’re dead” philosophy has been ruling my life as of late, and so ignoring my better judgement, I booked tickets to see the Mets (the New York baseball team) with Clare for the following day.

On Sunday morning, we took the bus into the city and headed to the borough of Queens.  We found ourselves in Corona, the heart of Queens’s very own Little Ecuador, a treat for Clare, who studies Spanish.  We went to a popular Italian ice booth called Lemon Ice King Corona; I had peach flavoured gelato, Clare had lemon.  We sat in a park, at a chess table, taking in the Sunday morning surroundings; old men playing  bocce, chatting in Italian, enjoying the warm weather.  We walked through Flushing Meadows Park and gawped at the Unisphere, a giant sculpture of the globe overlooking the Queens Museum of Art.  We had a brief look inside the museum, and were blown away by the “The Panorama” of New York’s five boroughs, a stunningly detailed aerial-view model of the city.  Last updated in 1992, the Twin Towers are still part of the panorama.  Though some people might find this distasteful, a crass reminder of the past, I thought it was interesting to see this preserved piece of New York’s history.  It would be nice to see an updated model alongside it, to see how the geographical landscape of the city has evolved over the last two decades.  If you find yourself in Queens, you should check it out.

After our brief but poignant stop at the Queens Museum of Art, we made our way over to the Citi Field Stadium, home of the New York Mets.  Clare and I had managed to get $10 student rush tickets.  The atmosphere was amazing; we were completely surrounded by thousands of intensely passionate baseball fans, all dressed in blue and orange.  As we made our way to our seats, we passed teenagers eating hot dogs, little boys sitting on the shoulders of their fathers, couples in matching sports jerseys and one particularly hilarious group of rowdy young women, cheering enthusiastically.  It was like a movie.  So what if the Mets aren’t as famous as the Yankees, Clare and I were at a baseball game!  A baseball game!  Naturally, our seats were on the sixth level, but for $10, we were expecting the worst seats in the stadium.  Luckily, we still had a good view, and so we watched the game, bemused by the loud team spirit that those around us expressed.  It was awesome.

Until I started to feel sick.  Hit by intermittent, alternating waves of nausea and a throbbing headache, I wasn’t feeling very well.  Could it have been because I hadn’t eaten?  I remember wondering.  Clare and I went off in search of food, and I tried to choose wisely.  I went back to my seat, still feeling ill, my salted pretzel in one hand, a bottle of water in the other.  I nibbled my pretzel gingerly, hoping that I would feel better with some food in my stomach.  I didn’t.  I snuck off to the bathroom, literally feeling as though I would vomit, but managed to keep my cool.  I told Clare I would have to cut our trip short, and needed to head home.  Ever the good friend, she rode the subway with me, making sure I got back to Port Authority in one piece.  As we waited for the 7 train at Mets-Willets Point, an outdoor subway station, I started to feel worse.  Trying to be discrete as possible, I quietly vomited into the bin next to me.

That’s right.  I vomited in a New York subway station.

Throwing up in a New York subway station, in hindsight, is probably the lowest point in my New York experience.  However, Clare’s sage words made me feel better:

“I bet every New Yorker has thrown up on the subway!”

And so with that, I flipped my traumatic experience of vomiting in a public place, and did what any real New Yorker would do.  I hid behind my sunglasses and pretended it never happened.

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