my new york | the one with street art, full coffee shops, and hanging lights everywhere

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My good, good friend Alisha and I met for coffee this afternoon. I suggested Peels because it was warm enough out that we'd be able to grab lattes-to-go and then wander. Waiting for her to arrive, I hung out on the corner just outside the restaurant. Funny thing about New York, there are certain places in the city that make me feel so very uncool. When I was in college it was any part of SOHO. Now, it turns out, it is the corner just outside Peels on the Lower East Side. The New Yorker in me was born and bred on the Upper West Side--where sweaters and button-downs and penny loafers are still, by-and-large, the norm. And coming from Texas--where women wear pearls and men gingham shirts... well, my style leans toward a certain blue-blooded-Americana. Sure, every once and a while I'll pull on an oversized hat or some distressed biker-boots, but if you drop me off in certain parts of downtown Manhattan or Brooklyn, I mostly feel wildly out of place--like everyone is in costume and I've missed the memo.


Today I discovered that the corner outside Peels is one such place--a place where everyone seems to be just a little too good looking--where everyone knows each other and wears expensive retro sunglasses and Native-American-inspired-caftans. It's the sort of corner populated by people who seem to ooze too-cool-for-school.


And here's the thing, as I get older, I have less and less patience for just those sort of people. Because the hipster thing has happened. Am I the only one who's ready to see what happens when hipster grows up? An evolution or aging process is in order, no?


I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'd take authentic over glamorous any day of the week.


I've gotten off topic.


This is all to say, that when  Alisha arrived, I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her in the opposite direction.


The air had quickly turned from cool to cold and it seemed that every coffee shop we passed was packed--the people looking all cozy and warm (and firmly planted) inside. Which is how we found ourselves in the basement of a coffee shop in Chinatown.


I like Alisha because she doesn't have time for the nonsense of "cool" either. Also, she's one of the very smartest people I know (she was home-schooled, so a huge kudos to her parents).


In that tiny coffee shop basement we grooved to good music, and sipped lattes, and talked about life's big things. She groaned when I told her how I lacked a certain amount of courage when doing something-that-as-of-yet-will-not-be-discussed-here, and I smiled as she told me about the first time she ever laid eyes on the man she's now married to. And then we talked about faith--faith in a higher power, in ourselves, in the lives we're now living, and in the people we hope to be.


And then we wandered--me with the big camera, her with her good eye for street graffiti.


I think the very best thing about my very favorite girlfriends here in New York is that when we're together we're constantly mistaken for tourists. And we're okay with that. We treat the city like it's an explorer's adventure.


No room, nor time for cool. And I wouldn't have it any other way.