Now that I’m a city girl, one of the things I miss most is my car. That’s where Zipcar comes in. My first experience, renting a Mini Cooper named Melhman, was rocky (he had a flat tire, which I had to fix). Since then I’ve switched to a BMW named Bern and he’s been Old Reliable.
It’s rare that I have access to a car these days, so my agenda yesterday was jam-packed:
I picked up my Zipcar from a nearby Manhattan garage. This really is a brilliant concept, renting nice cars by the hour with gas included, but they need a street team to check up on the fleet. Bern was way overdue for a service, which he reminded me every time I turned the engine on. There was also some dried-up ketchup near the gear shift, which I tried to avoid touching at all costs.
I couldn’t go all the way to Pine Brook without doing a drive-by of the old homestead. After all, we lived there for 25 years! Making my way up a street I’ve driven a million times before, I could see it sitting on the hill. Several familiar markers were missing, like our mailbox and some front-yard landscaping, but the biggest difference was the number of trees that had been chopped down. It must have been a dozen. These were 50+ year old trees -- the neighbors couldn’t have liked that at all! I immediately decided that while it looked like our house, it didn’t look like our home anymore, and continued driving. Curiosity satisfied.
No trip to Pine Brook is complete without a visit to 7-Eleven. I miss that little place! So I went in and picked up a yummy buttered roll, a true NJ delicacy.
I suppose there are dentists in NYC. Some might even be good. But I seriously love my dentist, so I’ll happily travel back to the ‘Brook 2x per year for my cleanings. We watch Food Network together, he tells me stories, and he gives me lessons about teeth. Yesterday’s lesson was about brushing after lunch. I said it grosses me out to brush in a public bathroom. He said that’s ok, just drink a bottle of water after drinking any soda and I’d be fine until I got home. Thanks, doc! As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I unwrapped my buttered roll with one hand and chewed it up with my newly clean teeth. To be on the safe side, I also drank a bottle of water afterwards.
Immediately following my dentist appointment, I went, naturally, to a candy store. Bromilow's in West Caldwell makes the most amazing home-made chocolates, but the cream of the crop is their chocolate-covered potato chip. Salty-sweet heaven. I picked up two boxes to give as gifts. (I won’t say who the gifts are for, because they may be reading this!)
I know I said I’d never set foot in a grocery store again, but I'm a sucker for Kings apple pie, and since they're practically next door to the chocolate shop, I simply had to bring one home. They were even having a sale on bottled water -- $3.99 for a 28-pack. That same case (with 4 less) is $8.99 on my beloved Fresh Direct, plus a delivery fee. Another reason to love NJ -- cheap water.
The city that never sleeps has everything… except for Target. What a crime! So one of the highlights of my day involved visiting the bullseye in Fairfield. My back seemed to be holding up, so I went up and down every aisle in the store, stocking up on all sorts of holiday treats. Sing it with me: There's no place like Target at Christmas to save. I may need to watch less TV.
I don’t think news of the recession has made its way to Willowbrook Mall in Wayne. I circled the parking lot 7 times to find a space, which I finally did right up front (score 1 for me -- in your face, parking lot!). Once inside, the stores were so crowded, I had to beat my way through with a stick. I’m kidding...I used a golf club.
My tour ended in Totowa, where I attended a 5-year old’s Little Mermaid birthday party. It was so much fun to catch up with old friends (big shout out to Jen, Adam, and Mike!). And I’m comforted to know that hide & seek, dress-up and tea parties are still very much in vogue.
All in all, it was a great day. Who says you can’t go home again?