Monday, September 19, 2011

High Life at the High Line? Not so much.

Last weekend, for David’s birthday, we decided to go to the High Line. We’d never been, and had heard so many great things, and the weather was sublime just the kind of day you want to spend on a charming erstwhile elevated train tracks which now serve as a public garden/meeting ground. The website informed me that I could find People Pops there, as well as all kinds of other super fancy food vendors. Plus, I figured, it was mid-August, and the city would be empty. And finding parking near the West Side Highway would be a cinch. Perfect. Would’ve been perfect had it been true.

Because two lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge were closed for constructions, it took for-freaking-ever to get to 14th Street and 10th Avenue and we’d worn out the kids’ patience and good will, which was scant to begin with. After searching for parking for five minutes, David realized he was in for the long haul and dropped us off at the High Line so he didn’t have a bloody migraine from the sibling rivalry happening in the backseat.

Just before we hit the stairs leading to the High Line, I saw an entrance to some kind of building where hordes of people were flocking in and out, and I thought, “Huh. Wonder what that popular destination is. Better check it out/” That was folly. In fact, I should have learned by now to go in the opposite direction of the throngs of people.

The place we had found was called “Chelsea Market” and it was, indeed, a wondrous destination with booth upon booth of artisanal cheese makers, basket weavers, knife sharpeners, fair trade organic coffee sellers, and gelaterias. Sprinkled here and there were art installations, including a waterfall-type thing with lights that changed color overhead that everyone was throwing coins into. It was idyllic. I didn’t even mind waiting 15 minutes for the bathroom. And by the time we’d peed, David called me to tell me he’d found a parking spot and was on his way.

“Great,” I said, “We’ll get a bite to eat here before we go to the High Line. We’re starving.”

But then things took a turn for the worse. Despite me giving what I thought were pretty explicit instructions to David about our whereabouts, he passed right by Chelsea Market and went to the High Line.

“Hey, where are you,” I asked when he called, “We’re waiting and there’s no place to sit over here.”

“I’m at the High Line,” he said, exasperated already.

“WHY would you go THERE when I told you we were at Chelsea Market?” I asked.

From there, our exchange rapidly deteriorated. Every time we spoke, we raised each other in fury.

“NO, you did NOT, you said meet me at the High Line!” he replied.

“OF COURSE I didn’t say that because we are NOT THERE.” I tried not to shriek, “Just HURRY UP and come here.”

But David had already done the unthinkable (which frankly, he thinks of with alarming frequency) and HUNG UP ON ME.

He went on to do the even more unthinkable and IGNORE my incessant calling for the next 20 minutes,

The novelty of Chelsea Market had long worn off and the kids were now annoyed and miserable again, whining and grousing. I was in the throes of a major rage fit, but trying to cover it, for the sake of the children. I tried to take them to a fancy food booth to get some grub but they refused to move a step without their father.

“NO! NO! WE HAVE TO FIND DADDY FIRST!” Primo bellowed, panicking that he’d never see his father again.

“But I don’t know WHERE DADDY IS!” I fumed, silently adding, “Because he’s a freaking ASSHOLE who I would like to murder in cold blood.”

“Let’s just LOOK FOR HIM! For GOD’S SAKE!” Primo begged.

“But the High Line is 30 blocks long and I have NO IDEA WHERE HE IS!”

Because the market was so mobbed, there was no place to sit, which forced us to stand in a corner and melt into a big, hot mess.

At long last, David popped up next to us, and the jubilant cries of the children were so intense you’d have thought he’d been missing at sea for the past three years.

Once we were reunited, the afternoon perked up, and we scarfed down some pastrami and soup and ham-and-cheese crepes, which improved morale. The High Line was perfectly nice, and I thought the sundeck was cool with its wooden lounge chairs, although scoring one of these sweet spots was a bit of a battle, like angling for a subway seat at rush hour. We sat for a while in a lovely shaded breezeway and ate People Pops, flavored apricot cilantro and raspberry ginger. You know, a totally OK time, But the amount of effort it took to squeeze out that small amount of pleasure seemed disproportionate. All in all, I was left wondering what all the hubbub is about. It’s a nice promenade but not worth leaving Brooklyn for.

Primo likes to call it, “The High Line: a supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again.”