I have always claimed that I didn't like surprises...and then we discover that Jason and Kaylen and their family, our good friends from back home, are here in New York and I trip over my own grin. We used Friday to meet up with Jason, Kaylen and their son Jace, in Manhattan...and to re-connect. It had been at least a year since we'd spent any time around one another -- new babies, busy schedules, jobs, distance -- and even though it rained, and even though we did nothing more than shop and walk, it was one of my most favorite days that this city has ever given us (a fairly distant third place finish behind my wedding day, and watching Michigan beat Duke at Madison Square Garden.) Who knew that walking around with old friends could be so much fun? What's the old joke, all you need are beers and a football
? Apparently you don't need either. You just need to take the F Train into Manhattan while a cute funster in tow, and meet up with another cute funster at FAO Schwarz.
The sky was waiting to dump rain, just kinda looming, and so our plans of FAO Schwarz and then a simple wander up to the Conservatory Water pond in Central Park, on the east side between 72nd and 75th Streets were kinda washed out. Not a big plan, but something simple and nice and quiet in the heat. Nope...we watched Sheryl Crow outside of the store, then wandered in and stayed. It was kinda worth it, watching Zoey and Jace lose their minds was hilarious. Zo had been there before, with our friends Betsy, Julia, and Alex, but she was far too young to remember the experience or even really enjoy any part of it. This time would be more memorable...especially considering Jace starting the day off by porking
no less than four giraffes just inside the store's entrance.Jace started the day off right by porking Giraffes no less than 20 feet from the entrance of FAO
The kids went nuts, from the minute they entered the store. We tried snapping as many pics as we could, and Jason was filming as much of the nonsense that his camera could keep up to but it was crowded and we were more inclined to not lose our children. They couldn't possibly have cared any less if they lost us. Between Jace and Zoey ripping apart the entire stuffed animals section of the store, including $40 dollar mohair
plushed toys, and then Jace trying to hitch a ride on any animal larger than a loaf of bread, we were laughing so hard our stomachs hurt.
Both Jace and Zoey were a little off their typical games, but then FAO Schwarz isn't your typical toy store. It's three floors of amazing, including the enormous floor piano from the film BIG
and dolls that you actually have to take the time to adopt rather than just purchase at a register. It also gives kids plenty of opportunities to settle into anything their tiny little hearts desire... from a Lego wonderland, to Barbie heaven, and even a book section to take a moment to chill in.
Zoey even got the opportunity to play Queen for a day...of course Jace joined her. He then, of course, proceeded to put the moves on my daughter, becoming the first legitimate
suitor she's ever had. Dirtbag.
By the time we were done wandering through several stories of sublime kid-centric crapola, Jason and Kaylen had a stroller full of purchases and we had found Season Three of The Muppet Show
, the rain had stopped and it was time to go wandering. The only problem was that it was even more humid than it had been earlier, and it was lunch time in arguably the busiest part of Manhattan and we needed to find a place to sit and eat with two giant strollers and two overwhelmingly jacked up, but tired, toddlers. We eventually scrapped our Central Park plans, grabbed some food across the park at Columbus Circle, and then wandered back to duck in and out of all of the shops on Fifth Avenue, that way we could at least be air conditioned some of the time. It was a tiring couple of hours and by the time we hit The GAP
on Fifth, Zoey was asleep and Jace had turned a decent nap into a gongshow of flexibility and maternal embarrassment. It was such a funny moment that we tried to classy it up in Black & White...didn't work.
I believe Kaylen's words upon discovering Jace in such a predicament, naturally, when left to the supervision of just Daddy's, was, "Oh my God. What is he doing? We're pretty much the worst parents on the planet. Look at him...no pants, his diaper is practically steaming. Jason, what did you do?
" At which point Jason looked at me and shrugged, then offered Kaylen the same. Once again, for at least the twentieth time that day I nearly died from laughter. When you spend so much time being busy in your own life and not taking the time to spend it with some of your favorite people on the planet, you can forget what it's like to laugh like that. Jason makes it easy, of course, Jace helps too, and Kaylen kills me on a regular basis.
By the time the day ended it was nearly 6 pm and as we limped on over to the Crowne Plaza in Times Square, where the Burgess' were staying, we were beyond happy to have been aimlessly wandering with our good friends. We took some time to cool off in the hotel room, got to see Tim and Marylou one last time, and even got to introduce Zoey to Layna and Dustin's five month old smash hit, Amelia, at which point Zoey began pointing out all of her features in Japanese...mimi, hana, me (meh), and kubi...no one else in the room knew what she was doing except us, and June grinned quietly but proudly. What made Dad more proud was watching just how gentle and patient of a child Zoey is as she played in the room with both Jace and Amelia. We've got ourselves a pretty stellar daughter at this stage. She fawned over Amelia in the most reserved and careful way. It had both June and Layna snapping pics like tourists visiting each of our respective families.
When all the fun and sweating from the day was done we loaded up, hopped on the F Train and headed back to Brooklyn. I wish every day in NYC was that much fun...and we really did nothing at all...now that's
the definition of an old best friend. Now I can't wait to see Jason and Kaylen when we move back to Canada. There certainly won't be another year between visits. six or seven hours reminded me how much I missed them.