Yesterday was my 29th birthday. Whoopee?
I celebrated with friends the night before, having a bunch of people over to the house to sit out in the yard and drink, and drinkanddrinkanddrinkanddrink until everyone started to head home and then I abandoned the last of my friends to go to bed. I suppose that in my old age I don’t have the stamina with booze that I used to, and I can’t say that’s something that bothers me. Anyway, going to bed early was necessary, because yesterday, on the day of my birthday, my friend Brian took me on an adventure.
We drove to New York City. For lunch.
It was sort of an amazing thing we did, you know. The trip there flew by – it took exactly one hour and fifty-eight minutes to get from my house to the Hudson Parkway exit. Then, unfortunately, it took almost another hour of driving around before we finally settled on parking in a pay lot because Chinatown was so busy at lunchtime.
But see, we were on a mission to cross something off my 30 Before 30 List, and timing and money were of no importance.
A few years ago on Brian’s birthday we were driving around NYC at night trying to decide where to go to dinner when we finally settled on Chinatown, the reason being “dinnertime” for us at that point, was closer to midnight than not and most normal area restaurants were closed. It was Brian’s birthday, and he wanted an authentic Chinese experience.
Now, having been to Yummy Noodle yesterday, I have no idea how we found it the first time. Really, it is quite easy to find, but we came at it from a series of back alleys and wrong turns, and yes, the restaurant really is IN AN ALLEY and can’t be seen from the street. You have to know where you’re going I guess, or you just have to be crazy like us and wander Chinatown in the wee hours of the morning looking for food.
I was skeptical of the place at first – for one thing, I was drunk and consequently feeling dehydrated. I begged for the largest water possible and got a cup that was practically the size of a shot glass. It was like a sample of water. They just didn’t get it when I kept asking for more, and finally I just asked them to leave the pitcher, which they didn’t seem to want to do.
But anyway, the noodles. These are the noodles I had yesterday, the noodles I fell in love with:
Surrounded by bok choi (whcih I didn’t eat) and covered in hot, sweet, delicious and saucy beef, these noodles are nothing short of perfection. They’re “pan fried noodles,” which is something that I have never seen on a menu at local Chinese restaurants. It seems to me that they take these dried up, uncooked noodles of some sort, flash fry them in some oil, and then throw the beef or whathaveyou on top and then the beef sauce COOKS THE NOODLES ON YOUR PLATE so that when you are eating them you have alternating bites of crispy, fried noodle and soft, regular noodle. That’s the best I can explain it. It’s noodle heaven in your mouth. It’s yummy motherfucking noodles, man.
Also, Brian ordered a 1,000 Year Old Egg:
Yup, that egg was black as night. I was the one who pointed it out to him on the menu: 1,000 Year Old Egg, $1.50. And this is what came. We sat and stared at it for a few minutes, I joked around that I didn’t want Brian to die eating something like this on my birthday, but he said that once he saw it HE HAD TO DO IT! So he put one wedge of egg in his mouth and chewed, and chewed. His face was expressionless, and though I kept asking him if it was okay he wouldn’t answer me, or even look at me while he was chewing. I really thought he was going to projectile vomit right into my face, but then he swallowed and smiled. He said it was good, and just tasted like a really, REALLY pickled egg.
I’m still convinced that that egg has been sitting around in China for 9,99 years and someone just brought it over by boat, but I guess I could be wrong.
So there, I’ve done it. I get to cross off one item on my list and move on to something else.
It was a good birthday. I was dreading turning 29, I was dreading this day, this day of beginning to live in my 30’s, because even though obviously the big three-oh is still 364 days away, I’m living in my thirtieth year now, and all my life I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that no matter what I do, I’m going to die young, and I had better start paying attention to what little time I have left.
It feels good to cross something off a list. I told Brian, it feels amazing to accomplish something you set out to do, no matter how small the thing is. It’s amazing to stare into the face of aging and death and just smile, because you still get to do these things, you still get to have these trips and these moments.
And also, there’s this:
Heading downtown on the Hudson, I was able to get a few shots of One World Trade Center. Seeing it there, I felt like I got punched in the gut, because it looks so foreign in that place. It’s not that I ever would have noticed anything was missing on that exact stretch of road, but now all I can remember is that ten years ago when I was driving down these roads into that city, there was a different view, a bigger view, with buildings that stretched so high I would have had to raise my head higher, and higher, and now all that is gone.
It’s going to be a beautiful building, and I can’t wait to drive that road again, and see it standing tall.