Recently, I had the opportunity to have one of those “in real life” meetings with one of my favorite bloggers — Vanessa “ethelthedean” Woznow of Rant and Roll. Several months ago we realized that Vanessa would be in my neck of the woods for a few days this summer. She would be visiting Brooklyn for her sister’s wedding; I live in northern New Jersey. Obviously, we couldn’t be so close and NOT get together — that would just be silly.
Vanessa carved out a couple of hours between helping her sister with her final wedding preparations and trying to see some of the sights of New York City. Since she was staying in Brooklyn, I decided that lower Manhattan would be the most convenient location for us to get together. Because I’m an idiot, I set the meeting for South Street Seaport.
Anyone who is familiar with my blog can attest to the fact that I’m not that big on paying attention. This particular chink in my armor is not a huge deal when I somehow fail to hear the clerk call out my deli number and, therefore, miss my chance at the rarest cut of roast beef. It is, however, kind of a pretty big deal when I send the lady from Vancouver to an area of Manhattan that was all but flattened by Hurricane Sandy.
My first clue that something was very wrong came when I realized that I was the only person roaming the neighborhood who wasn’t wearing a fluorescent vest and a hard hat. At first I thought (seriously, I thought this) that they were simply renovating the area. It wasn’t until I smelled the mold and the mildew that I took note of the fact that the streets looked like that classic episode of “The Brady Bunch” — the one where they stumble upon that abandoned mining town on their way to The Grand Canyon. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d been approached by a grizzled old prospector offering me some “Fool’s gold”.
The night before our meeting I had, thankfully, Facebook messaged Vanessa and given her my phone number — “just in case”. Of course, I imagined she would only have to use it if she found herself running late or some such, I didn’t think she’d need to contact me to tell me that the giant chain restaurant — the one that we had agreed to meet in front of — the one that had been sitting in the same spot for going on twenty years — was, indeed, “missing”. To be clear, it wasn’t just “missing” — in the sense that it was no longer in business. It was, quite simply, gone — as in, it’s now somewhere on the bottom of the East River or the Atlantic Ocean. It, along with the pier on which it once stood, was, in a testament to the power of hurricanes in general and Sandy in particular, washed away by the sheer force of the wind and the rain that accompanied the storm that, literally, rained devastation upon the eastern seaboard.
At some point on this cloudy and humid Monday, while scouring the area for signs of life, I realized that this day might also have a bit in the way of precipitation in store for us. And did it ever. It poured buckets. I know people say that all the time, but in this case it was true. The rain formed what can best be described as a “curtain” — separating the pier from the water — it was so fierce that, although I was standing at the foot of The Brooklyn Bridge, which, for those of you unfamiliar with this edifice, is no small structure — I couldn’t see it at all. Any of it. It was eclipsed by the deluge. Great!
Luckily, one of the piers, while it had suffered some damage, had just recently reopened for business. That’s where I found Vanessa and her party.
Somehow, my intrepid Canadian friends (Vanessa brought her mother and her husband over the bridge with her — bonus!) stumbled across what I could not — an open food vendor! When I found them they were replacing the processed sugar they had lost on their long, wet trip across the bridge. Fueled by cinnamon rolls and caffeinated beverages, we set about getting to know (more!) about each other.
Fang always worries about me whenever I agree to meet a “bloggy buddy” — as he likes to refer to them — in real life. I’ve met a few so far. Not one of them has turned out to be an axe murderer, but that doesn’t stop Fang from expressing his anxieties regarding what he characterizes as a sketchy practice. I’m happy to report that Vanessa, who didn’t even have room for an umbrella in her bag, was not, as far as I could tell, armed with anything more dangerous than a hair tie. If she is an axe murderer she hid it well.
We had a short, but enjoyable, visit. I learned that her husband knows far more about American history than most Americans — and certainly more than I know about Canadian history. He was as delightful as his wife. Vanessa’s mother was lovely as well — she struck me as an “up for anything” kind of gal.
Vanessa was funny, warm, energetic, intelligent, vivacious, and very tall, which is exactly how I expected her to be. I daresay she felt the same way about me. I can’t wait to see her the next time she’s in New York — hopefully we’ll manage to squeeze in more than an hour together and have a meal outside of a food court.
In terms of my husband and his concerns regarding axe-wielding Canadians, I’m happy that I didn’t suddenly and uncharacteristically choose to listen to him. If I’d done so, I would have missed out on meeting a truly fantastic person — and that would have been a real crime.
photo credit: me