Travels With Ian
Oh, the places we go!
St. Patrick’s Basilica is nestled on one of those winding streets in lower Manhattan, living in strange harmony with modern skyscrapers, three-story brick Victorian townhouses, and cast-iron buildings from the turn of the century. But back when the basilica was built in 1809 none of that was there; it was surrounded by farmland and the country houses of the rich. Later, in 1836, it was defended by Irish Catholics shooting their muskets through through special holes in the walls at the anti-Catholic Know-Nothing nativists, who believed that the priests were raping girls and burning the babies.
Last Sunday, Steve, Ian and I went to mass at this Gangs of New York church. It was a spur-of-the-moment plan that we cooked up just that morning, when we realized that we had a blank Sunday with no other obligations or plans. This Bascilica is the older aunt of the more famous St. Patrick Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. It is one of the many older churches in Manhattan that harken back to a time when the city was bursting with my Irish and Italian ancestors, but now have mostly empty pews on Sundays. It’s a shame, because the churches are gorgeous. The halls are filled with the music of angels — Broadway professionals work at those masses as a side hustle.
Later, we stumbled into an eccentric little cafe for top-notch coffee and eggs. In Manhattan, you don’t really need to research restaurants. They’re all excellent and plentiful. The worst meal in Manhattan is still better than the best meal just across the bridge in New Jersey. One of life’s enduring mysteries is why food is so mind-blowing good on that little island.
The major goal for the day was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Despite living in the area nearly my whole life, I had never done that before. So, we walked through those winding streets, through Chinatown, and walked up the poop-covered ramp (New York’s homeless must sleep there at night) to that bridge.
As we walked across the bridge on that grey and windy day, we were all in our own worlds, the lead of our own movies. I was Sophie in Sophie’s Choice drinking champagne with Kevin Kline and Stingo, exhilarated and drunk. Ian certainly never saw that movie, but he also felt the thrill of being on this iconic location. Intense and serious, he strode so quickly across that span that I sent Steve ahead of us to keep an eye on him, while I paused to take pictures.
At the end of the bridge, we decided to flip around and head back, rather than explore DUMBO. We’ll save that trip for another time. We grabbed some coffee and gelato in Little Italy before returning to Steve’s Mini back on Mulberry Street.
With no job or college or friends to keep Ian busy on weekends, we go places together. Downtown Manhattan, Amish country in Pennsylvania, a mountain in the New York’s Catskills. It’s our backyard, our playground. While we might take these trips to entertain our autistic son, Steve and I are having a ball, too. The best trips always involve talking with new people, seeing something unusual, good food, and a glass of wine.
On the blog: Thoughts on Florida and Aging
On the blog: Community: Team Will or Team Chris?
On the blog: Some girlie pictures of the clothes that I packed for the trip to Florida.
From the my Disability Newsletter, The Great Leap:
How Emily Nunn Turned Salad Into a Soapbox - I subscribed to her substack.
‘I sleep in my wheelchair’: Hudson Valley residents struggle to find home care
Good tips on growing tomatoes.
Watching: Moon Knight, Yellowstone
Reading: The Peacock Emporium, How To Be a Wallflower