People Watching

Things I saw this weekend include: a girl in pasties, four different men in semi-offensive headdresses, at least six unicorn onesies, countless women in straight-up lingerie, many, many sunburned people and a shirtless guy playing guitar while his wife swayed next to him holding an infant. It may sound like something out of a Tim Burton drug-fueled daydream, but that’s actually a snapshot from round two of LB has a perfect weekend (and is only slightly sunburned). My lovely long weekend was a blend of relaxing and wild, just enough crazy for some hilarious stories and just enough of summer to make me so excited for the next few months.

A few weeks back, my partner-in-crime R, her Scot H and I decided to bite the budget-crushing bullet and purchase VIP passes to Electric Daisy, which we all came to agree was probably the best decision we’ve made in a long time. I woke up on Sunday to crisp sunshine after two days of rain, clear skies and a full day of drinking in a ridiculous outfit ahead of me, braided hair, cropped top, crazy shorts and all. We arrived around 12:30 to the venue, which boasted four stages and a VIP area for each, free carnival rides for anyone willing to wait in line (spoiler: I wasn’t) and the people watching of a lifetime. Throughout the day while enjoying the music and the full bar next to each VIP deck, we saw everything from brand-new friends dancing together like they’d know each other forever, a couple that couldn’t have been older than 20 having an epic fight in front of what they didn’t realize was the VIP lounge window, and two girls exchanging pinky promises that “nothing happened.”

VIP viewing

VIP viewing

We decided to join the crowd in mid-afternoon, breaking away from the secluded deck and dancing with reckless abandon, hands up, swaying with the bass and jumping as the bridge rose, faster, faster. After the final show we fought our way through the crowd to make it on the first train back, where my ears kept ringing and all I wanted to do was smile, a perfect day, a perfect festival. I had just enough wherewithal to get home and take off my makeup, jewelry and even brush my teeth, but obviously there’s a limit to how responsible I am, so rather than getting into my bed to sleep, I chose to grab a pillow, bring it to the living room and sleep on the floor. Eh, win some, lose some.

Stop and smell the summertime

Stop and smell the summertime

The next morning I woke up and found my ears were still ringing but the rest of me felt great, something I needed to face another long day. My lovely friend M and I had been planning a Memorial Day picnic uptown for a few weeks, a chance to get the Nickname Posse together to relax and catch up. It took M and I all of 45 minutes to prepare the food and we made it to Fort Tryon around 3, finding her N, R, H and D&D, my brother and his girlfriend, along the way. We stayed and picnicked in the park for almost 4 hours, ate every last bit of food washed down with beer in paper cups, napped in the summer sun while overlooking the river and just enjoyed each other’s company. We saw the aforementioned shirtless man, couples hiding in the rocks over the walking path, children running in all the trees and even a wedding party posing for pictures, a perfect day for such a celebration. Once we were out of food and exhausted from the sun, we reluctantly packed everything in around 7, promising we’d have another picnic soon.

I declined the generous offer from M and N to take a taxi back down to my apartment, in need of a good walk and some time to be on my own. It was still warm and bright by the time we left, and I was desperate to soak in as much sunshine as possible, something to keep me going during the rainy week ahead. I smiled as I checked my phone for a text from a very jet-lagged AZ and made plans for dinner, a chance to relax at home with little miss and prepare for the week ahead. I looked through pictures before going to bed that night (read: bed, not floor), laughing at the memories of people in the background, the foreground of the festival and the weekend. A perfect weekend of people watching with everyone I adore is quite the way to start the summer season, after all.

Comfort Food

New Yorkers have a funny habit of finding cool, unique and interesting things to do on the weekend, and then never actually going through with making the plans. We all get the Time Out New York emails, Urban Daddy alerts, even Living Social deals and send them around to friends, insisting “WE HAVE TO DO THIS,” and then forget to buy tickets, forget to respond or forget to attend. A few weeks back, I got an email from my fashionista C, subject line “WE HAVE TO DO THIS” followed by a million exclamation points (approx.), and initially assumed it would fall victim yet again to “oh were you serious?” or the classic “I thought that was next weekend!” Reading over the details my eyes widened when I saw the event title, and I instantly g-chatted her to buy tickets within the hour. What was so fantastic as to make us break the cycle of always finding and never attending events? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Big Cheesy.

ALL OF THE CHEESE

ALL OF THE CHEESE

What you’re observing in the photo above is the best $30 I’ve spent in a long time that didn’t come from Hautelook. That, my friends, is Big Cheesy, an annual event honoring the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the city. Tickets got us one hour of entry, two beers and all the grilled cheese we could eat. AND BOY DID WE EAT. Though the event noticeably lacked a classic grilled cheese sandwich, it offered choices with everything from raclet-style gouda, pickled green tomatoes and jalapenos, to Wisconsin cheddar, asparagus and horseradish aioli, to mushroom ragout, white bechamel and truffle oil, all washed down with pints of Goose Island, a perfect afternoon jaunt on a sunny April day. C and I worked our way through each cheesy offering, spilling cheddar threads down our chins and comparing sandwiches, eventually agreeing that the aforementioned mushroom-and-truffle-oil was the winner. Once our hour was up, we wandered around Nolita in the sunshine, stopping for obligatory margaritas and eventually making our way back to her rooftop, spending the whole time laughing, chatting and generally enjoying the day.

I dipped my head back in the sunshine at one point on the rooftop, still completely stuffed from the hour-long sandwich binge, and started laughing for no reason other than I was really, really happy. I’d been in such a funk for the past few weeks, reliving old wounds from a failed relationship and trying to find ways to blame myself for things over which I had no control. It’s not easy, as a woman, as a twenty-whatever, as a New Yorker, to let yourself really and truly enjoy the moment you’re living as you’re living it. We stress over the future and reflect on the past so easily, so quickly swayed in one direction mood-wise or another, rarely savoring that exact moment for what it is. Taking an hour this Saturday to enjoy some comfort food and a stroll around lower Manhattan reawakened my bad mood to all of the wonderful things that surround me in this moment, at this time. There may have been pulled pork and pepperjack mixing up this classic comfort food but it was a classic millennial New York weekend, putting the smile I’d set aside back on my face in a big way.

You should have been there.

You should have been there.

I left the Financial District as the sun was setting, having made impromptu plans to head to another borough for a low-key Saturday night. Walking with that view of One World Trade was a fitting end to another New York weekend with my fashionista C, comfortably simple and exactly what I needed. I can’t promise we won’t continue to ignore the “WE HAVE TO DO THIS” emails in the future, but if anything sounds half as amazing as “all you can eat grilled cheese” and “lifting a sunken mood,” perhaps I’ll start making more of an effort after all.