Sometimes the best laid plans are the most last-minute ones.  This seems counter-intuitive, but just think what impromptu action spares you:  over-thinking, over-planning, over-waffling.

Late last Wednesday night, my friend Lindsay emailed from her business trip in NYC asking if I could run up, go to dinner, and spend the night on Thursday.  I didn’t even see the message until Thursday morning.  As luck would have it, I had a hair appointment that morning, and nothing else scheduled.  On Friday, Chris and I had a meeting, but  it was easily shifted, and he encouraged me to go.

Everything went like clockwork.  I took the train from our local station to the city, walked a half block, bought a $20 round-trip ticket to New York (“you can use the return ticket any time in the next year!”), and immediately hopped aboard the Chinatown Bus.  I pondered the sign painted to the driver’s right:  We are Not Response for Belonging.   Profound, somehow.

 A stranger advised me to sit up front, which I did, and after worrying a bit about homicidal seatmates, I ended up having a row of two to myself.  This is a benefit of advancing age.  When I was in my teens and twenties and took a bus anywhere, a man ALWAYS took the seat next to me.  Usually from the genus Charlesicus Mansonus.   Although once there was a really cute Brazilian guy (“Zhosay”) who called me Zhennifair and wrote me letters at college long after our Kansas City to Colorado Springs journey had ended.

The bus arrived in NYC’s Chinatown in record time and my short cab ride to the Upper East Side cost more than the 90 mile bus trip, but I was still way ahead of the game, budget-wise.

Lindsay was wrapping up a business trip.  In the ultimate cliche, we took her boss’s toy poodle for a walk around the Upper East Side.   We remembered how, 14 years ago, we took a walk through this same neighborhood, window-shopping for French outfits for her first baby…all of which were highly impractical and vastly over-priced, but still charming.

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An early dinner at a charming little bistro followed. 

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Over pasta and cheese and wine, we talked and talked and talked.  Then we walked back to our crash pad, talked some more, walked the dog, got into PJs, and talked ourselves to sleep. 

It was reminiscent of our sophomore year in college, when we shared a double room in the depressing basement of a giant dorm, with a window that was half under-ground.  We called it the Ant Farm.  Despite being together at most meals and most hours of the day, we would talk into the wee hours of the morning, sharing our family histories, memories, aspirations, plans, and boyfriend matters.

In fact, the smartest thing I ever did, as a somewhat unmoored freshman at college, was to ask Lindsay if she would be my roommate sophomore year.  Since I popped the question as we were walking to a St. Valentines Day Massacre party dressed as gangsters, I had the advantage of surprise, and she said yes.  

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Locking Lindsay in as my next-year roommate gave me great peace of mind.  Even if we ended up losing the dorm room lottery and got the crappiest room on campus, I had the best roommate.  And the best friend. 

Back in New York, early Friday morning we shared a cab down to Chinatown, where we ignored the Taxi TV at our knees and kept up our running dialogue on the Big Issues in our lives at the moment.  Lindsay’s advice was, as always, very sound.  It serves to anchor me.  She is my personal Ethicist.

I caught the bus back home, she caught a flight home to San Francisco, and all was right with the world.

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