It started like this.
"Let's do it," I said to my cousin. So we did.
We found ourselves on Jamaica Bay, sandwiched between a housing project (Hiya, Crips! Howzit, Bloods!) and a school bus parking lot in Far Rockaway. The boat was part of a collection of abandoned vessels donated for the Boatel project. "Let’s first get one thing straight," wrote artist Constance Hockaday in her welcome letter. "We are not a real hotel. This is an adventure at best and an art project at worst."
For $100 we rented Nancy Boggs, a houseboat named after a 19th century woman who ran a floating brothel. Instead of turning tricks in her honor, we grilled burgers and corn on the dock, drank slightly too much, and joined a bunch of rowdy fishermen and assorted hipsters in an incredibly well executed rendition of the Electric Slide.
In the morning we lounged on the top of the boat, watching three goats scramble along the marina and bleat bloody murder. A retriever paddled half-heartedly after a ball and turned back, deciding that retrieving wasn't really her bag after all.
"ZOE!" called the dog's owner. "GO GET THAT FUCKING BALL!" We cheered her on, spurred by a local guy who jumped fully clothed into the Bay to coax her. We struck up conversation while he stood neck deep in water, his clothes billowing around him.
"What do you think of all these hipster kids coming in from all over New York to spend the night on your marina?" I asked, fearing the worst.
"I think it's great," he said. "Everyone's been cool. Connie had this crazy dream to create the Boatel and she made it happen. I've lived here all my life and I'm glad people get to see how beautiful this neighborhood is becoming."
Ignoring the planes taking off from JFK, the sirens in the background, the rumble of the A train in the distance, the bay seemed idyllic, a wash of muted grays and blues and greens bleeding together like watercolors on a wet page. It was a beautiful way to end the summer - a glimpse into a completely different New York, far from where I grew up and where I now live.
Back in Brooklyn, my heart felt heavy. The first day at my new job loomed large, my confidence evaporated, my nerves frayed. Things were looking pretty grim until Fauxhawk up and fixed me a drink. I sucked it down so fast he laughed - and then fixed me another. Not bad for a boy who doesn't even drink.
Here's the special sauce, in case you need a restorative:
Fauxhawk's Labor Day Restorative
(Makes 1 drink. Trust me, you'll want more.)
4oz apricot nectar
6oz sour cherry juice (so delicious - but substitute with cranberry juice if you're a lazy bastard who can't be bothered to find cherry juice)
2oz creme de banane (buy it for this cocktail, but also for these kick-ass margaritas)
Juice of half a lime - more if you like it tart
1/2 cup crushed ice
Shake in cocktail shaker with an ice cube. Combine that jammie with the crushed ice and add a splash of soda. Garnish with a lime and "something red."