The Art of Living (in the city)

Just the other day I said to myself, “We should get a plant.”

And, voilà! Our good friends J&R drove in from CT yesterday bringing not only their wonderful selves — but also basil and parsley, a big clay pot and bag of potting soil.

Right after breakfast, I’m in the kitchen raking my fingers through the rich, moist soil and planting the herbs. As if I were living in the country. Or, at the very least, suburbia.

Basil and parsley anchored in soil (I’ve placed one of my small paintings behind the potting paraphernalia to tart up the photo), I dress and quickly leave my apartment building to move the car to the alternate side of the street.

At 9:15 a.m., I pull out of our no-parking on Tuesday spot on 86 St., hoping to secure a no-parking on Monday-side spot — so we will be safe for the week.

I drive to 77th St. and I pull in behind a person sitting in his parked car, who has the same idea as me:  park in a no-parking on Monday-side spot (from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m) and vacate the car when the clock strikes ten.

Because that’s how we roll here in Jackson Heights.

Of course, I’ve brought along a book.

A cursory glance at the curb and with debris at a minimum, I’m confident the sweeper has already come and gone.

I kill the engine and open my book.

A couple of minutes later, in my rearview mirror, I espy an approaching sweeper. %&$##@!

I start the car. So does the guy in front of me. We both move to other side of the street, double-park, and wait for the sweeper to do its thing.

Then we swiftly reclaim our former spots.

I turn off the engine and open my book (The Elephanta Suite by Paul Theroux.)

Several minutes later, a monstrous garbage truck trundles up 77th St. and screeches to a halt adjacent to my car.

Jockeying the truck into position, the driver finally comes to a stop. The idling truck is sitting at a 45 degree angle, its rear to the curb, cab to the front, and is blocking half the width of 77th St. The garbage truck driver gets out of his truck and yells at us to move.

&*%%$##@@! The guy in front of me starts his car and pulls it up to the corner (something he was loathe to do initially, seemingly he’s a person who has nothing better to do with his time than find the perfect parking space — as in: This is where I always park, I know it’s a big city, but this is where I always park so too bad for you).

I creep up behind him, shut off my engine and open my book.

Keeping an eye out for a DOT official with a ticket book, I happen to glance in my rearview mirror. That’s when I see a second sweeper coming up the block (ah, the redundancy of it all — just another example of our tax dollars at work).

Sweeper drivers have no mercy. They will pull their heaving machines right up to your rear bumper and lay on the horn. Which is exactly what this guy does.

So now we have the garbage truck blocking one-half of the street, the second sweeper blocking the other half, we two parked cars blocking the sweeper and all of us blocking the long stream of traffic demanding to get down the block, amidst a deafening cacophony of honking.

I start my car and lean on my horn to wake up the guy in front of me, who still has not budged or even started his engine. Finally, his engine turns over. I tail him around the block, certain he has a back-up plan.

Eureka. Three spots are open on 76 St., and it’s another Monday-side, no-parking 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. We quickly pull into our respective spots.

I open my book, read a couple of pages, text my husband at work, and before I know it,  it’s 10:00 a.m.

Time flies when you’re NOT having fun and it happens to be your DAY OFF!!!!

But…soon there will be basil.

So that’s something to look forward to. Along with my dentist appointment at 5:30 this afternoon. Do I know how to schedule my day-off, or what?

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