things are great here

I have a cold and some weird laryngitis, no doubt aided by this recent stress at the border. But other than that minor difficulty, everything is great.

We got to my mom's house around 10:00 on Monday night, exactly two hours later than usual. My mom made a joke about our delay: "Allan, they wouldn't let you through with your Red Sox cap?" And I said, "Ma, they had me in an interrogation room. I was questioned and harassed for two hours." Her eyes went wide, and we sat down and told her the whole story. She was appalled, and she might have been worried, but she could see I wasn't upset, and we were making light of it, so I think that helped.

Tuesday we spent the day in the City. New York City and I have such a beautiful long-distance relationship now. I was sitting on a cross-town bus, going through Central Park, drinking it in, thinking, omigod I love this place. I love being here, and I never have to put up with any of the bad things about New York, it's just always fun and beautiful.

I had lunch with NN, as always, then we walked around talking... and I saw Woody Allen. No shit. Walking down Park Avenue, by himself. I tugged on NN's sleeve, but she didn't look in time. After he passed, I said, "That was Woody Allen! Right there." We turned around to watch him amble down the sidewalk, and NN waved to his back.

After that, I met Allan and our niece E. E said we would meet at Stumptown Coffee, her favourite coffee roasters from her Portland days, now with a place in New York. I was imagining a little coffee bar. Little did I know Stumptown is part of this massive, hip scene going on in a hot, new (that is, new to me) boutique hotel.

The Ace Hotel, on West 29th Street, is some wildly hip digs, and they've created a whole new take on the hotel lobby bar. A huge ground-floor space is entirely open, loft style, and full of cushy couches, mismatched chairs, coffee tables, bars, and whatever else. It's very hip, but also very friendly and non-snooty. After our coffees, we ended up with a bottle of prosecco and a charcuterie plate, and after E had to leave, Allan and I had another round.

Allan and I met our great friends AW1L & F for a late dinner at Raoul's, a Paris-style bistro that's been in business forever and shows no signs of slowing down. A&F have lived in London (UK) and have done a lot of trans-Atlantic travel. AW1L has also traveled a lot to Africa, so both men are well familiar with border difficulties. F is African-American, and he is frequently stopped by British guards. AW1L is Muslim, but is white and has an American-sounding last name (he converted as an adult), and is never stopped. AW1L says the guards in London don't even make an attempt to cover it up: everyone they stop is brown.

In general, we ate and drank too much, and had a great day.

Yesterday, Wednesday, we had to make a shiva call - that's the Jewish post-funeral visit to a family in mourning. Being long distance, I haven't been physically present for several funerals and shivas, which is hard. I was glad we happened to be around for this one, and I was able to pay my respects and wish people well. The man who died was such a sweetheart, someone everyone loved, and there was more celebration of his life than anything else. But I know his family will miss him so much. And here's a woman who has lost her life partner of more than 50 years. That's just brutal to think about.

Allan and I had dinner at home with my mom, and today we just hang out until having a small, quiet Thanksgiving with my sister and brother-in-law. It was my BIL's dad who died, so it's a subuded Thanksgiving this year. (I have known my brother-in-law and his family since I'm 15 years old, but that's coincidental to my sister being married to him.)

Tomorrow is our traditional day-after-Thanksgiving with our nieces, nephews and their partners at my brother and sister-in-law's house, the highlight of this annual trip. We spend all day with them then always end up talking late into the night, then Saturday Allan and I hit the road at dawn.

Happy Thanksgiving to US readers. I'm having a great time and I can't wait to get back to Canada.

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