I left California at 10pm on December 28th and started my 16-hour journey back to New York: a connecting flight in Phoenix, a long flight and subsequently longer layover in Indianapolis, and lastly my final destination at JFK International — where I would immediately pick up a car and drive upstate for New Year’s Eve. While awaiting the last leg of my trip in the cold, snowy daylight of Indianapolis, I found myself exhausted and huddled by the window of my airline gate. I wanted to get some adequate sleep; for the duration of my trip, I was packed like an unshowered, greasy Oreo on two of the three planes I travelled in. After unsuccessfully trying to get some rest in Indy, I pleaded with the customer service representative to upgrade me to first class (quicker boarding and exiting, plus more legroom to sleep comfortably). I just couldn’t book an upgrade (much less change my stupid 6-hour layover) before my initial flight. She, too, was having difficulty upgrading me via the airline’s computer network, but in the spirit of the New Year — plus a face that ultimately said “fuck this shit computer” — she upgraded me for free.
So there I was, in first class: I chugged a glass of red wine before takeoff and almost immediately fell into that Delta sleep state that I desperately needed.
As soon as I touched down in New York, I acquired my luggage and picked up my car rental. I briefly stopped by my apartment to pick up Nico and maneuvered my way through Manhattan to pick up Eric and his dog, Fozzie.
For the next two and a half hours, I drove upstate to the cabin where we — the dogs and Eric — Alex, Michael, and their friends Diana and Ryan would spend New Years.
The cabin itself was a nice, rustic AirBnB in Bearsville, a small village adjacent to the acclaimed hippy enclave of Woodstock. To my surprise, it’s owned and operated by Kate Pierson of The B-52’s fame, who had adorned the cabin with Native American artifacts and murals. Although there was absolutely no cellphone reception for miles, we did have WiFi. Funny enough, the password for the router was “Love Shack.”
We celebrated New Years in a modest and tame fashion: a good steak dinner, a few board games, and 6 hours of “Law & Order: SVU” (I was never a fan of the show, but by god, so many fucking twists).
During the day, we explored downtown Woodstock and walked around like tourists with a pair of excited dogs by our side. Let me tell you, the hippy era is alive and well in Woodstock: there were numerous candle shops and New Age boutiques run by aging flower children. I couldn’t count how many tie-dyed linens, Buddha statues, and crystal charms that were being sold in storefronts. Nonetheless, it was a nice contrast to see several young vacationing hipsters, yuppie couples from the Upper West Side, and local dudes in army fatigues and graying ponytails walking side by side along the snow-lined streets.
All in all, it was a relaxing transition from spending the holidays with my family in California to returning to the hustle of survival in New York City. I feel that occasionally going away from the city is a welcomed break from the packed subways, hurried deadlines, and the occasional crazy person shouting bible verses and asking for money while brandishing a menacing cane. The open air, the quietness, and the solitude of nature/simple living are constant reminders to breathe a sigh of relief every now and then, and that staying in NYC without a break will suffocate me.