I book the hotel through Priceline because it has free parking. It’s in a zombie construction zone part of Manhattan in the West 30s. When I pull up, the doors are chained shut.
I peer inside and see some mattresses on the floor, but no other signs of life. No alternate entrance or notices to redirect the weary traveler. I call but it just rings and rings. I try Priceline, but keep getting put in virtual queues; when they call back, the connection gets severed. This goes on for six hours.
Meanwhile, I park at a meter near the old Whitney for $10/2 hrs to see the temporary install of the Frick Collection. It’s here while the old mansion gets a facelift. I hate it. The old paintings are so out of context within this Brutalist monstrosity. In my mind they are in lived rooms. These are examples of some of the best European painting ever done, but in this non-space it feels almost like I have VR goggles on or I’m scrolling through them on a life-sized computer screen. The fact I’m so irritated by the hotel fiasco doesn’t help either.
I pay another $10 for parking in the West Village to visit Zack at his bar. Feels good to catch up and I meet a couple of his friends, but I’m so scattered I leave without leaving a tip. I return and do so after getting hung up on by Priceline a couple more times. I open my laptop outside a closed Pain Quotidien and book a room for the night from a different website.
I go in the lobby and ask the clerk where to park. He says there’s no parking. I say the site said ‘parking available’. He repeats there’s no parking, then clarifies that the garage up the block will validate 24 hours for $30. But he advises looking for street parking, as it’s free over the weekend.
I get up at 6am Sunday morning and drive up to the Met. My timed ticket to see the Alice Neel show is for 1pm, but I decide to try to get in early since I’m up.
Afterwards, I drive out of NYC via the George Washington Bridge and, after a couple wrong turns, head north on I-87 to meet a friend for lunch. The road is littered with dead deer. Makes me think the New Jersey motto could be ‘the Dead Deer on the Highway state’, but later, west on I-80 in Pennsylvania, I see New Jersey was a mere piker at the roadkill game. At one point, I look in my rearview just as the car behind me sends the dead doe I’d just veered around in the passing lane spinning like a puck into the median ditch.
It’s raining and gloomy when I get off the highway, still somewhere in Pennsylvania, and check into a Quality Inn. It costs about the same as my room in Manhattan, but the bathroom isn’t down the hall and there’s no need to search for parking.
Grateful to be back in my own bed the following night.