“Luck, honey.” I mumbled and heard him walk out the door. I opened my eyes just enough to read 3:30 am on the clock. He was off to run the Second Annual New York 100 Mile Marathon; I flipped over and went right back to sleep.
It was already a scorcher by 8:30 when I got out of bed. I knew Shannon was in for a day of torture. The race had started at 5:00 that morning in Times Square and by the time I was pouring coffee, he was pushing his way across the Bronx from west to east. I had the day out of the kitchen, but errands to run and gym to attempt.
The crowded 1 train pulled into the elevated 125th street station. I like that stop because the air outside, even in the sweltering summer heat, is less oppressive than the hot, motionless pits of humidity the underground stations become. I surveyed the train…first car: full, second: very full, my car: plenty of room to sit. The train slowed to a halt and I took a deep gasp of the outside air before boarding what would certainly be some sort of torture. An almost empty car in the city is generally a sign that there’s something bad in that car- normally a person who hasn’t had a shower in a few months. You always think “Oooooh, I’m so lucky! No one’s in my car! I can sit my tired ass down.” and then the doors open and you realize why. My car contained no stinky human, but the air conditioning was broken, so soon it would. It wasn’t nice but it wasn’t that bad and, since I was headed to the gym anyway, I took a seat and pretended it was my warm up. By that point Shannon was running near City Island, then down the Bruckner and the Hutch in 90 degree temps. I couldn’t complain.
At the next stop, a man boarded wearing rainbow shorts, a bright red t-shirt, and a long beard. He was covered in sweat and talking to himself angrily about the difference between up and down. He sporadically punched the air and whistled loudly. Other people in the car tried to focus on the floor or their phones but glanced up regularly to make sure rainbow shorts didn’t lose it for good.
Three stops later, I switched to the express train. New York is challenging enough without the crazy man in the warm car. The 2 train was delightfully chilly. Suddenly, a large woman pushing a broken granny cart crashed into me. She started screaming at an invisible attacker and many people cleared out of her way. As the train rolled out of the station, she settled, leaning back against the door and panting like an overheated bull mastiff.
There is a phenomenon in New York every summer. It seems like, when the mercury rises above 85 degrees, the population of crazy people explodes. That day, I was uptown and downtown, in farmer’s markets, grocery stores, the gym, and the park and every corner contained a new odorous nutter making his or her case to no one in particular.
I got home and collapsed in front of the A/C. Man, it’s good to get home some days.
My phone rang.
It was Shannon. He had run through Flushing, touched Nassau County, and was headed south toward Howard Beach. He wasn’t doing well. He needed supplies – shorts, socks, support. I looked at the couch longingly and whined for a second about how long it would take me to get to him (he wanted me to meet him in Rockaway Beach). I heard the sound in my voice and then the sound in his. When he told me he’d changed his mind and didn’t want me to come, I had already started out the door.
I descended into the pit that is the 125th street A train station. It was packed full of angry people- too hot and too tired while waiting for a train that is intermittent at best. A tall older man was sitting on a bench and I plopped down three seats away from him. He had big headphones on and spontaneously spasmed to the music he heard. The people next to him all sighed. The man began to twitch and hum quietly. Another man behind me stated “Oh man, he’s craaaazy.” I sighed too.
But then he really started to sing. It was Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag by James Brown.
“…he ain’t too hip, about that new breed babe…”
His eyes were closed, his arms were flailing, but his voice was pretty good and a few people started to chuckle. It felt so good to crack a smile. I hadn’t realized how frozen in frown I had become until that moment.
His eyes still shut, the song became louder.
“He ain’t no drag, Papa’s got a brand new bag.”
We were all laughing now and a few started to dance.
Up on his feet now, the man was singing full out. I looked across the tracks at the people waiting for the uptown train. They were all laughing and dancing too.
“He’s doing the Monkey, the Mashed Potato, Jump back Jack, See You Later Alligator… he ain’t no drag, papa’s got a brand new bag.”
Every single person in that station was on their feet cheering and applauding.
We were one.
We are in this together.
We are all crazy.
We’re New Yorkers.
It took me and hour and a half to get out to Rockaway Beach. I didn’t make it to Shannon because I had accidentally printed the map from the previous year’s race– much of which had been permanently damaged from Hurricane Sandy. I gave up when I saw what I was walking into- dark beach with no phone signal. I was terrified and disappointed.
Shannon finished the race in just over 26 hours. This was his third 100 miler in 6 weeks. He’s a fucking superhero.
After he had slept for many, many hours, I woke him up to this meal – featuring some finds from our local farmer’s market. After a few bites, he was healed. Garlic scapes are only around for about a month a year. They can be added to pesto and stir fried but I like them best roasted at a high temp. They get slightly sweet, a little bitter, and very crunchy. They aren’t my favorite veg around but they are so much fun to look at and a real treat for the time they’re around.
Roast Pork Loin with Roast Veggies, Garlic Scapes, and Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 2 ½ -pound boneless pork loin roast, well trimmed
- 4 Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 3 carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 bunch garlic scapes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 stalks rhubarb
- 1 1/2 cups strawberries, quartered
- 3 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.
- Finely chop garlic and rosemary together, adding salt and pepper to the cutting board as the spices get finer.
- Pierce the pork loin all over with a sharp knife and then rub with the garlic/ rosemary blend.
- Place pork and vegetables into prepared pan. Drizzle oil over the potatoes, carrots, and garlic scapes and the sprinkle with additional salt and pepper.
- Roast in oven for 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop the rhubarb and strawberries into ½ inch pieces. Place them both into a pan with the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft. Take off heat.
- When the pork has cooked for 35 minutes, take the pan out of the oven. Place the pork on a plate, but return the pan with the vegetables into the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
- Turn the oven up to broil, paint the compote over the pork and then return the pork to the oven under the broiler for an additional 5-7 minutes, making sure the oven rack is not too close to the broiler heat.
- Remove pork from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.