Occasionally it is just good to get away. And getting away to see be with friends unseen for too long is a bonus. When you announce your travel to Providence/Newport the expectation is that you'll be antiquing and sight-seeing, but (as often for me) its the unseen parts of Rhode Island that interest me the most.
As per usual, the Amtrak train was almost one hour delayed going up Friday afternoon. No worse than usual. And to be delayed leaving is always better than to be stuck somewhere on the way there. Once the train arrived to Penn Station, my travel companion D and I were lucky to find the front of the queue, but we stood to the side a bit to allow train personnel and disembarking passengers to move along. Behind me a group of Japanese-hair-straightened-yet-still-rather-masculine-looking ladies announced their existence as the line started to reform: "Hey, no cutting fellas. We been here two hours." Exhibiting my obvious need for time away, my reply of "Yeah, and I've been smelling you here the whole time," was an obviously sub-par reply. The ride up was relaxing, aided without doubt by the bottle of Jack Daniels that I was careful to pack.
Our hostess, A, dispatched her boyfriend, R, to pick us up at the train station so she could focus on the amazing okra and tomato stew that she was preparing. After a great meal, we relaxed, caught up, and with the obvious tell of massaging my scalp after being asked if I was ready for sleep, I soon was.
As is typical, I was the first to wake the next morning. There is sort of an unspoken covenant of house-guesting for me. I'm a mediocre cook (with the exception of baking), and I sort of like to spend time by myself in the morning (being an only child does leave an impression). Too make up for these traits I employ one of my good ones, cleaning the home, kitchen included, and taking the cat for a walk (which apparently common in the suburbs or maybe it is just something this cat, Balthazar, enjoys).
Then comes the socio-cultural exploration of searching out the local stores. The quantity of goods is always a surprise to me and I phone-mail a friend back in the city (E) a 'Jell-O wall'. His reply, "Too many choices". We go to the big cheap emporium, Marshalls, stocking up on placemats, napkins, and other non-essentials, spending a good ten minutes in awe/shock regarding the "Ladies with Elegance Collection" glass ornaments. The most exciting find is Levi's cords for a mere $15.98.
On the second day of this long weekend, I'm concerned that I'm in the bathroom, shitting normally, but a lot. Then it hits me: we've been eating three meals a day. And even snacking. Amazing.
The next day we're in the car to take a trip into Connecticut. In a store/coffee shop the largest array of Spanx products takes up an entire row of the store along with Strivectin-enhanced cosmetics (I try the eye cream), perfumes, candles, and stationery. From this, the general clientele is obvious to me with their Volvos and nannies and troublesome times worrying about which upholstery is right for the rework of the game room. The shop is cute though, despite its unimpressive hot chocolate.
Our next stop is a genuine cider mill, with tasty home-y products, all in jars of quantities too large for the single gay. And although my companions have an appreciation for pickled watermelon rind, it's lost on me. What does impress me is the hard cider, which is immediately effective. Our "Sampling Hostess" Tina ignores the three sample per customer rule and let's us try one of each of the seven varieties, netting her a sale of about $200 between the four or us.
A quick visit to R's mother's home to check on a misbehaving furnace reveals an amazingly well-decorated home that reminds me of the older homes of Cherry Grove. It was built in the same time period and is simple and quaint with amazing little details. The Oscar Wilde pillow seriously has me doubting though if the home is occupied by someone's mother or their doting gay uncle. After the sun went down, we head to Ocean Mist where I'm in heaven. Located on the water, it is a dive/surf bar. After a few beers, games of pool, Buck Hunter, and "If you hadda, who wouldya" we return to cook more, this time with a couple in tow. This time I'm allowed into kitchen to finish making a pumpkin cheesecake (from New York magazine - the recipe is a bit bland, so add a bit more of all the spices). Other than finishing the baking of the cheesecake, I'm relegated to setting the table, something I enjoy anyway. (I know my station.)
All of which brings me to a Monday morning, drinking proper French-press coffee, eating cheesecake and writing before D, A, or R is stirring. And Balthazar stares at me, ready for a walk on this last morning of my long weekend.
It had been an unmemorable weekend. Hooking up with a hottie. Playing frisbee in the park. Sunday brought a barbecue with old friends followed by a couple of beers at the Eagle. Leaving there relatively early despite it being a holiday weekend.
The subway ride home was quiet. No one cute on the train. The arrival to my own subway stop brought visual clues. Four police officers with radios sounding. Drunken commuters, not allowed on the Manhattan bound train. Someone lying on the floor.
My thoughts were that it was a drunk. Passed out on the subway floor. With the number of police, perhaps the person was injured.
Then, rounding a corner the puddle of blood was visible. Not a puddle though, a pool. A pool of blood so large and still. Reflecting the lights and the shapes an colors of the nearby wall. Shaken, I turned around. Took a less convenient exit.
The next day brought news trucks. It became obvious that there had not been an accident. The neighborhood gossips told me before the news. The victim had been shot in the head.
Taking the picture brings feelings of dirtyness and inappropriateness in the Tuesday morning post-holiday rush. Most commuters had not read or seen the news. There is a pause to see the picture. Read the note. Notice the concrete floor is a brighter shade of grey.