Spring Break, Part 1: Seeing Green

The events I could compare St. Patrick’s Day in New York to would have very little meaning for most of my readers: Halloween in Isla Vista, Floatopia, any night on State Street if you were near certain bars. A high-pitched, not entirely young, mass of intoxicated individuals, stumbling worse as the day went on—all in green, of course.

Beer goggles—or a jostled camera

Our guide Andrew said he never remembered it being as bad as this when he was younger, a statement echoed by his mom, who marched in the parade. Of course, we had the very perfect day for a parade—sunny, warm, and a Saturday.

Since we didn’t get the memo that we were supposed to arrive in Manhattan already drunk, we quickly made for a pub. Guinness all around and then a bagpipe band showed up, marching through the squeeze of bodies in the narrow bar.

Properly hydrated, we set out for more people watching, lunch at a deli, a quiet moment in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, then a quick coffee, where Jake joined us! The little brother, he is alive and well and loving New York. California, I think you’ve lost him forever.

We rounded out the afternoon with a visit to the Irish Potato Famine Memorial, a charming slope of green near Battery Park, and a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. My travelmates had all just finished several hard weeks of school, remember, so we called it an early night and returned to Andrew’s house for take-out pizza and “Waking Ned Devine.”

Day two was pretty typical New York site-seeing: Washington Square Park, SoHo, the Highline Park, Chelsea, then dinner with Andrew’s folks at a nice Italian place.

Oh! One more Santa Barbara reminder: While we were watching this piano player in Washington Square Park, there was an explosion about 100 feet away. Everyone turned to see a cloud of smoke turn into a perfect smoke ring. Assuming it was another street performance, we ambled over after the pianist was finished to find a crowd of people looking nervously at a manhole and warning others to stay away. Why does this make me think of Santa Barbara? The smoke was faintly yellow and blue.

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