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Rated: 13+ · Non-fiction · Biographical · #2061695
Barb's takes a rainy summer night's "sunset" cruise around Manhattan Island.
Monday, July 31st 2006
5:58 AM
Barbara E. Taylor

One night last week I went on a dinner cruise in honor of a good friend’s birthday. I met eight women I have never met before and we totally bonded. Birthday girl, Dale, has terrific friends. It was the kind of group where everyone was of an age - some of us married with husbands and children, some of us single with careers, some juggling both - but we all knew each other's language and laughed at the same things and understood each other immediately. It's Dale, of course, who has surrounded herself with people of wit and style. I can't remember feeling so instantly part of a group with no strangeness at all. Example. I had been the last to arrive because of the weather and traffic so I got a laugh by saying, "It was a dark and stormy night." They picked up on it right away and we went around the table adding lines to the story as if we had always done that. Wouldn't you know some of them had never taken one of these dinner cruises and didn't know the landmarks all that well? I told them I'd bring my megaphone next time.

It was literally blowing a gale, foggy and raining as we left the pier and went down the Hudson to the harbor. The ceiling was so low the NYC skyline ended at about 20 stories up. No skyscrapers to be seen. Heads lost in the clouds. Despite that, it was crystal clear below the cloud layer and those lower 20 stories from the waterline were positively glowing because of the cloud reflection; an amazing effect. By the time we rounded the Battery and sailed up the East River and under the Brooklyn Bridge the wind had begun to shred the cloud cover a bit. Meanwhile, we were being served drinks and an elegant meal.

These ships are actually floating supper clubs. There were birthday parties, anniversaries, people getting engaged and a wedding reception all going on at the same time on our deck. A terrific DJ was spinning Latin, rock, and swing and all 10 of us got up and danced. What a great crowd. The bride had a flower girl and they were dancing. There was a woman in a black satin pantsuit with white satin blouse who was celebrating her 80th birthday. I want to be her when I'm 80 because she was beautiful and having a wonderful time. You should have seen her dance.

When we crossed the open harbor to the Statue of Liberty, the DJ played "God Bless America" Ray Charles version and we all sang. The rain ended as if it had been scripted, so we went out on deck and the wind literally blew the City into being as we sailed back toward it. By the time we were up the Hudson again and getting ready to dock, the skyscrapers were visible to their tops all bright and gleaming.

I said goodbye and took the ferry back across the river to where I had left my car in Jersey. I couldn't get enough of looking at New York - I never get enough - but tonight it was jewelry - slashes and bars of white and red and green and blue looking like pave diamonds on a backdrop of indescribable sky that was so dense it held the colors and reflected them back.

I started to separate myself from the essence of New York when I thought I was leaving. I hadn't been on the water around it for a couple of years. Tonight, writing this, I fell in love with it all over again as if it were a new discovery and I don't think I can ever be very far away.

When you come to visit me, which you must plan to do, I'll take you on a cruise like this. You'll never forget it.
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