hungry hearted

serving up a healthy portion of pop culture commentary, random infatuations, and introspective ramblings

always and forever

When I moved to Austin I didn't foresee the cultural/geographical indications that would explain a shortage of bagel shops. The same goes for pizza. There just aren't as many Jews and Italians down south. Bagel shops are a staple of life in the northeast. It took me awhile to equate a breakfast taco to the doughy deliciousness of a bagel, and I'll always be biased.

Evan picked me up at my parent's house, just like when I was a sophomore in high school and he'd come tote me around. The first car I ever drove was Evan's classic red dodge demon. The license plates read "SAY TEN," which prompted inspecting glances from anyone who got the joke. That seems like a lifetime ago.

The weather was still unseasonably cold and rainy. I layered as best as possible and leaned over my shoebox of treasures as I walked from my parent's house and got into Evan's car. I laughed as I caught sight of Evan's oversized Zack Morris cell phone, and he put a Tupperware container in my lap with broken pieces of his new entrepreneurial endeavor: Vegan O'Brien Gourmet Cookies. His chocolate chip prototype was definitely up to par.

The New Paltz Plaza had received a total facelift since the last time I'd seen it and Hot Bagels was totally revamped. I excitedly ordered a much anticipated everything bagel with veggie-tofu cream cheese (so good), grabbed a drink from the cooler, and found a booth in the back. I think Evan ordered a breakfast sandwich, which surprisingly contrasted the straight-edged, veggie-head I knew back in high school. He scrutinized my shoebox until I unveiled its contents. We laughed over the pictures and reminisced. It felt good to be home.

After breakfast Evan drove me to Hertz in Kingston to pick up my rental. Once he was satisfied that I wasn't being taken advantage of, he headed home to dive back into the growing demands of his product launch and I hopped into my 2007 KIA Sportage. It felt good to be alone. On my trip thus far events had been tightly scheduled and I'd been dependent for rides, which is something that bothers me more than it should. I realize I have a huge issue with dependency, especially with transportation, as I perceive it to ultimately limit personal freedoms.

Given my new vehicle of independence, I decided to stop into Jim's silk screening shop ( ya'll!) on my way back to NP. I walked in to find Jim prepping a screen. When I left last summer the place was barely open, so it was great to see it all up and running. I heckled Jim and Mike, took pictures and loitered around for a while as they casually worked on the day's orders.

I turned back onto Rt. 32 and called over to Justin and Diana's. I would be driving past momentarily and thought I might as well take this opportunity to make some rounds. I turned off the main road and onto the gravel path leading to a huge, old, red barn, which was divided into apartments. Coby's dad used to live in this complex, around the corner and upstairs in a huge loft apartment. About ten years ago when I was learning how to drive, I took my parent's Dodge Ram for a joyride and picked her up to accompany me in my delinquency.

I knocked as I pushed the door open and saw Justin's expression light up before he unleashed his boisterous greeting. Justin is a character like no other, which should be made clear. I plopped myself on the couch and admired my old coffee table as it sat between us. We chatted as I made myself at home and he rolled up a blunt to "do what [he] does best." I squatted down and stuck my face up against the glass walls of his aquarium and tried to recall the names I'd given his fish. Given the activities so entwined with my days spent playing college at Justin's, my memory failed me.

Diana came home and took a seat next to Justin. He lit the blunt and passed it over. We talked about NP and they brought me up to speed on current events with old friends. It was good to see Diana happily reunited with NP after our time living together in Austin. I know that it's hard to find a place that makes as much sense to a personal lifestyle as a hometown does, especially a hometown like New Paltz. Its easy to fall victim to it's allure.

I had a lot to get done before heading to Connecticut later that night so I pried myself off their couch and got back on the road. As I approached the downtown crossway I impulsively turned right. I feared that if I didn't the chaos of my trip might not allow another opportunity to drive up through the Gunks (Shawangunk Mountains). With my radio adjusted to 100.1 Radio Woodstock, I drove through the flat fields of Mountain View Farms and up around the hairpin turn. I parked at the first outlook, got out and stared at the hazy horizon. The weather left much to be desired of the view, but it was nothing I hadn't seen before. I enjoyed the effects of my high and the time alone to introspect. I hope my love affair with New Paltz never dies. It feels like every inch of that town yields volumes of nostalgia.