Before I left, I was heating up oatmeal and saw a man sitting at the table. I saw him on Monday and just assumed it was another roommate. I will be honest, I know it looked rude not to say anything other than a low good morning, but many people I encountered in Brighton Beach didn’t really speak anything other than Russian. While I always wanted to learn Cyrillic (I took Arabic instead), it was a challenge. When he started chatting with me in English, I sat down and met Oliver. He and his teenaged daughters (I saw one of them briefly on Monday) were visiting from Belgium. Oliver works with NGOs and he was telling me about his work. We had a passionate back and forth and before I left to catch the subway to Penn Station to go to Bradley Beach/ Asbury Park, we exchanged Instagram usernames to keep in touch. I uninstalled it for vacation, he requested me and when I got home, I would accept (I told the same thing to Sammy).
New York City is amazing! A few people helped me with my luggage as I walked up the stairs. I was surprised that people did it without me asking, but I was grateful nonetheless. Those random acts of kindness showed me that there is still kindness in large cities.
While I was waiting for NJ Transit, I messaged my next hosts, John and James, to let them know my time of arrival. I arrived at their house at 12:15, they were only two blocks from the train. John and Jim are a gay couple and let me tell you, they were the best! When I walked into the house, Jim and their relatives gave me a warm welcome. The aunt said, “look at your sleeping quarters, it’s gorgeous!” And it truly was. I had a bedroom, then across the hall was a sitting area with a desk (perfect for the Happiness Box Project), a fridge, a small bathroom without the shower (we would share), and a body length mirror. They are both into Broadway and the hall is decorate with programs. Their home was warm, welcoming, and friendly: basically, their house matched their personalities. I felt very safe and a few times when John didn’t have to work at the Asbury Hotel, they were generous towards me. Jim’s a social worker for the school district and I really loved chatting with him. I loved chatting with both of them and their home sort of reminded me of Nan’s home; I think that’s why I felt very comfortable and of course, they were safe people.
For the first day, they were near Bradley Beach and John dropped me off there. They let me borrow their beach things, but I only brought an umbrella. Sadly, because it was so windy, I lost the plastic wrapper, but it wasn’t a total big deal as I thought it would be. Bradley Beach was fun, but it was a lot rougher than Brighton Beach. Rip tides, but I stayed mindful of the life guards. I’m a strong swimmer, but I called it a day when I got tired.
I wanted to go to a beach bonfire in Asbury Park, but because of the impending storms, it was cancelled. I still trekked to Asbury Park, had a delicious seafood dinner and caught a free performance at Wonder Bar. The Chorades opened for Proxima Prada and they were amazing! I loved their style and I was able to meet them after their performance. They gave me a free CD and 45, I offered them money, but they didn’t want it. I thanked them and have listened to the CD. They are amazing and I hope they do make it somewhat big. I wish I still had a 45 player, but I guess I’ll frame it. Oh, I also met Garah and Bill, a couple visiting from the suburbs of Chicago. They invited me to sit with them and they were very friendly. We all left as soon as it started to thunder and rain. I caught a little bit of Proxima Prada and they sounded good too. Next time that they are in Philadelphia!