Wednesday, March 08, 2006

days of beer and hats

What New York really is, is it’s an island, with lots of people, lots of different people.... I hope to maybe meet some guys, some Italian guys, and maybe watch some TV.

--Libby Mae Brown, Waiting for Guffman

Back in the day, watching TV while traveling would have been completely blasphemous. I was one of those sightsee-till-your-feet-are-covered-in-blisters types, determined to pack in Meaningful Cultural Experiences even as I daydreamed about free HBO. But the new, more relaxed (and possibly dumber for it) Cheryl is all about Project Runway, Little People, Big World, the Oscars and one surprisingly heartwarming episode of a WE show called: Secret Lives of Women: Transsexual.

Since Project Runway took place in New York (as did a couple of other shows and one movie I watched), I felt like I still got to see the city. And I felt very postmodern realizing that, a feeling you don’t get when you’re schlepping to the top of the Empire State building.

I’m exaggerating a bit, but even though I got a lot of work and some respectable sightseeing in, this trip was somehow all about a gentle sort of hedonism. I work for the sort of organization that, when you get folks together after hours, they have a few drinks and start talking about how great our donors are, how much integrity our executive director has, how rad our mission statement is. And somehow it’s as much fun as real gossip, because I have really awesome coworkers.

But traveling is ultimately about looking at your everyday life with new, more educated eyes. For example, as an LA girl, I knew that hats made stylish accessories. But until last week, I never knew that they could keep you really and truly warm in a snowstorm. I knew that beer was cheaper than cocktails, but I didn’t know what a nice, prolonged, gently hedonistic buzz it could provide.

I slept in. I didn’t unpack my running shoes. I stayed up late and asked questions and had a whole heaping handful of what I think of as Moments In The Woods (it’s a Sondheim thing) with really good people. Tommy and I talked about God and dwarves. Nicole and Bram and I talked about race and file-sharing. Jen and I talked about destiny and feminism and the crazy man getting naked behind us at Starbucks.

I think something came full circle. Maybe a couple of things. I wrote poetry on the plane ride home. And then I watched some more TV, sans headphones, just familiar faces pausing for laughter.


Jamie said...

Yes, beer is cheaper than cocktails... for the time being! Loved reading this. Hats are essential.

Cheryl said...

Not that the occasional appletini ever hurt anyone.