beaniekins and I took a trip to Crown Heights on Sunday. It was a relatively spur of the moment trip, which was nearly canceled thanks to sethcohen's medical woes on shabbos, which you can read about in his journal (who knows, maybe I'll get around to posting about that eventually too). Bea and I decided sometime Thursday that we were going to head up to NY. This was my first adventure into Crown Heights since about 1994, and my perspective has changed a teeney bit in 8 years, so it was an interesting trip. All in all, a great time was had.
The main purpose of the trip for Bea was to seek out and purchase Cholov Yisroel Cheese Puffs. Who woulda thunk that you can only get those in Israel, New York, and on the internet (and it's not so easy or cheap to get them on the internet)? My main purpose, aside from a few personal ones, was to seek out and purchase Kosher Doritos. Alas, although a large quantity of Cheese Puffs (5 large bags and 6 snack-sized bags)were purchased, there were no kosher Doritos to be found. I shall have to travel to Israel for them.
We left about 30-40 minutes late, but we made excellent time on the way up. When we arrived, we stopped in (unannounced) on friends of hers from when Bea lived there. We were buzzed up and as soon as we walked in the door it was "Thanks for calling, Bea!" but in the most open and friendly way possible. We stayed for about 20 minutes, maybe more, and had great conversation. The couple we were visiting had a 9 month old baby who was taller than most 2 year olds I've seen and very cute. She even eats gefilte fish. (of course, she was also most intent on eating the strap from her high chair...) :) I felt only a tiny bit weird when I was asked what I do and I said "I write computer security policy for the INS" and jaws dropped. Honestly, it's not exciting and it's not that important, but somehow that came out all wrong. I felt very exposed. But only for a fraction of a second.
We left and walked around a bit and went to the bookstore. If any of you know me at all, and most of you do, you know that putting me into a bookstore is a dangerous thing. And putting me in a bookstore with Jewish books...definitely a bad thing. Especially while I'm trying to budget for a wedding. I left with a slightly heavier backpack and a slightly lighter bank balance. But I'm pleased with my purchases.
Then we went to the shul, which was a great experience. I found the shul to be incredibly accessible to people of all types, which I truly appreciated. The women's section overlooked the men's section where there were several dozen (? I'm bad at guestimating numbers) men davening, studying and talking among themselves. Just before we left, the Rebbe's chair was brought out and the men started davening Mincha (more on that in a later post, I think), which was amazing to experience.
We saw some other friends, made some purchases for Bea's rabbi, went into three stores in search of cheese puffs and doritos. Eventually we spent a lot of money on cheese puffs and, alas, no money on doritos. *sigh*
We had hoped to see Bea's old roommate, who recently moved back to Crown Heights, but we didn't know exactly where she lived and although *I* was willing to knock on every door on the block until I found the crocodile-hunter-loving-chassid-in-a-fou
By this time, it was about 5 or 6pm. We had hoped to leave Crown Heights by about that time. Well, we did leave Crown Heights then, but not to go home. Then we went to the Ohel, which was another experience which I believe I will leave for another post at a later time. But, it was a good experience and I'm glad I went. Sometime around 7, we set out on our way home.
Having made good time on the way up, we were not to experience such good traffic karma on the way home. I despise NY drivers. But I despise rubber-neckers (who appear in any old state) even more. We were just over the Maryland line, after having made a detour in New Jersey to avoid ridiculous traffic delays on the NJ Turnpike, which was annoying enough because as soon as I got off the Turnpike, I discovered that I could have spent 10 cents less per gallon on gas. Blah. So anyway....we were just over the Maryland line when traffic slowed to slower than a snail's pace. I'm not exaggerating; I looked down at one point and there was a little snail, complete with shell, laughing at me as he rode past me on his bicycle. Nasty little buggers, they are. I called Seth and let him know I'd be late. Well, I was already late, but that I'd be later. We drove at 8 mph or less for what seemed like forever. What was the delay? A nasty accident...on the northbound side. Stupid drivers.
Fortunately, we made it home safe and sound, relatively unscathed, and with our bellies somewhat full of cholov yisroel cheese puffs. It was nice to make a road trip with such good company, good music ("Urine Town", though odd in title, actually is a pretty darned good musical...it's just hard to say with a straight face), and good conversation.
Eleven bags of cheese puffs will not last forever, though, so look out Crown Heights! We'll be back!