With seven in our family, we eat a lot.
Therefore, it is necessary to buy a lot of food.
Once a year, we go to a restaurant supply store in New York City and buy oatmeal, flour, sugar, rice, beans, etc. in 50 -100 pound bags–because they have the best price on these things, they don’t make you pay for a membership, and the store carries delightful surprises we can’t pass up, like bulk sesame seed (hello, homemade tahini!), insanely beautiful 2 gallon jars of kalamata olives, and powdered hollandaise sauce mix by the half gallon (which is probably terrible for you, but dang delicious over ham and eggs on an english muffin).
We’ve been shamefully late on doing it this year, but we finally put aside a Saturday and made the drive.
Our phone map app died 20 minutes before we got there in the middle of icky NYC traffic. The qualifier icky goes without saying, doesn’t it?
We desperately navigated the rest of the way old school style, using maps that did not indicate which streets were one way. Three children were distraught because they needed to pee. We got to the store five minutes before their 1 pm closing, and while they took enough pity on us to let us use the bathroom, they flat out refused to sell us the three hundred pounds of beans and dry carbs we had come for.
We piled back in the car and went down to a gas station to refuel and let out the last child whose bladder hit capacity only after we pulled away from the restaurant supply store. At the gas station, the man in front of me spent ten minutes trying to explain to the cashier that the tire air hose was broken outside. The cashier had a sketchy grasp of English and and even sketchier lack of caring. I asked for the bathroom key, and he informed me that “toilet exploded.”
Back on the road, we realized we were all hungry. So we stopped at a grocery store boasting a Greek food aisle and bought muffins, bananas, and an array of other things to grind into the newly vacuumed van carpet. The store also boasted a bathroom, through the back, down the stairs, in the darkest corner of the basement storeroom. If I could buy larger bladders for the children, I would.
Well, says I, we’ve come all the way to New York City. Surely we should do something interesting here before we leave?
Yes, says husband, let’s go to the High Line Park! My colleague from New York City says it’s THE thing to see out here.
So we pick up McDonald’s wifi and learn that High Line Park is a mere 6 miles from where we are. And it would almost be faster to walk.
55 minutes of
purgatory New York City traffic later, we (astonishingly) find a (maybe free, maybe legal?) open parking space. Whether or not it was actually legal, there was no parking meter, and we didn’t get a ticket. This is our primary triumph in this journey.
We ascend the steps and find ourselves on an elevated walkway packed with tourists from all over the world, walking up and down this elevated strip of history, through high end apartment buildings and over
circles of hell New York streets packed with cars.
I had envisioned playgrounds and grass planted over the raised rails. While there were patches of grass, they were studded with polite signs to please keep off. Because, just like chickens, too many humans will destroy a nice patch of lawn.
Once again, the offspring had to pee, so husband was obliged to go buy fried asparagus in order to gain access to a toilet. While we waited for him (and bladder-needing child), Jane the Austen and I counted how many Francophones, British Accents, and Russian Speakers we could overhear in a five minute period, how many torn skinny jeans we could spot in five minutes, how many heads of pink hair we could catch in five minutes.
Outside of cheap oatmeal, my favorite thing about “The City” is people watching.
The asparagus, like New York City, sounds exciting in theory, but was ultimately kinda disappointing, and not half as fresh as I thought it would be. But maybe overpriced, overdone vegetables and cities are an acquired taste that I have yet to develop.
On the way back, we encountered a gentleman who had a nice hippie public art project, where the general public was invited to pain masterpieces on 3X3 pieces of cardboard, which he added to an ever growing display.
Some people are appallingly talented. (OK, this is also something that is fun about New York).
And that is the story of our futile journey for oatmeal.