Plan A was to drive only as far as New Haven, and use Metro-North to bring me the rest of the way. Unfortunately, when you leave New London at 4:20, you approach New Haven at the height of rush hour, and it became increasingly clear that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to catch the train I wanted. So I decided instead to drive all the way in. It would be only the second time I've ever driven into Manhattan - hell, I have more experience behind the wheel in the heart of Boston. Despite traffic, my Garmin guided me flawlessly to the venue. I honestly am not sure what the hell was wrong with me on Christmas Day, when I thought it was a sub-par gift. ANYWAY! Getting there was, of course, only a third of the battle; then I had to park, and that's not such an easy thing in that area of the world. The final stage of the challenge was finding the venue itself. The Anchor is tucked out of the way on Spring Street in the West Village, with only a single anchor above its door to mark its presence. I walked up and down Spring several times before finding it. Once inside, I was quite impressed with the place - a nice little room that, exactly as it advertises, doesn't take itself too seriously. After a couple of minutes in the place, I was approached by the second person who mentioned this on Facebook - someone whose brother is best friends with my trusted associate RB. I thought I hadn't seen her since she graduated from Northport High in 1998, but upon further review, that's incorrect; we both chaperoned Northport's Summer Music Clinic, aka "band camp," in 2001. There was extensive catching up between us, given how long it'd been since we'd seen each other. I also met - for the first time since 1998 (no, seriously) - the lady whose night it was, who had shown an Armstrong-esque display of courage in overcoming cancer.
Several flyers on the bar told me that a raffle for some cool stuff would be held about 9:30. Just before this time, I intercepted the lady who was throwing the event, and asked her "excuse me, but are you the one I need to see about the raffle?" That was followed by a gianormous hug, and then by my purchasing two raffle tickets. Though she had to attend to many different duties as party host, Emily and I found plenty of time to bring each other up to speed on our lives. She even asked about my brother, with whom she used to work at the Shipwreck Diner in downtown Northport. I could not help but mention that by graduating early, she missed out on her alma mater winning the Big Dance. I also finally got the chance to tell her face-to-face how much I loved American Teen, a movie she helped to promote last summer. More than anything else, two things stayed with me about our conversations over the course of the night. One, she mentioned an idea of having people submit videos of what they've been up to, and play them at our reunion in November. I responded that I'd said the same thing to those who are spearheading the planning of said reunion. Two, she related her belief that everything happens for a reason. You hear that quite often in this day and age, but it rang especially true on this night, as I recounted the general details of the previous nine-plus years of my life.
I was tempted to try to end the "interminable streak," as there were many women worthy of such an endeavor within The Anchor. But I was tired, and had a long drive home ahead of me. And besides, Friday night was one not about new beginnings, but about resumptions, of the best possible kind. To the Chinese, this may be the year of the ox, but for me, it is the year of the awesome sauce. Big up to Emily for making this happen...and bigger up to Julia, for three years of true ass-kickery!