Cost of Saturday, April 10: $114.74. Value of Saturday, April 10: priceless.

God bless Daylight Savings Time. The early light makes sleeping in an impossibility, so I was up and running along the river by 9:00. Cue epiphany number one. I’m running in Riverside Park. The sun is shining through the skyline. And Dashboard Confessional is cranked on my iPod.

Hands down this is the best day I can ever remember
I’ll always remember the sound of the stereo
The dim of the soft lights, the scent of your hair
That you twirled in your fingers
And the time on the clock when we realized it was so late
And this walk that we shared together
The streets were wet and the gate was locked
So I jumped it and let you in
And you stood at your door with your hands on my waist
And you kissed me like you meant it
And I knew, that you meant it

Damn you, Chris Carrabba. Great lyrics, great melody. Cost? $.99 on iTunes.

Next stop: Starbucks for a viente mild. Cost? $2.06.

Back home, I cranked out a little ballad called ‘Great Lakes.’ It’s inspired by a) a band in Athen, GA, my buddy Dave was telling me a bout and b) the photograph I took of the sun rising over Chicago as my mother, brother, dog Alfie, and I, turned the station wagon east towards Philadelphia that summer morning years and years and years ago.

I wanna wade, I wanna be, under the waves, underneath
For the Great Lakes to swallow me so completely

Keeper? We’ll see. Freebie? Absolutely.

When it became clear that my super was not delivering my long-awaited and much-needed new refrigerator, I headed east towards Fifth Avenue. Much as I love my corduroy sportcoat, and much as it spiffs up any pair of jeans, its retirement is fast approaching. But I had no luck.

So I headed northwest through Central Park. By this time it’s 2:30 or so. I’m passing the playground around 60th and Park Drive South when I see a dozen or so young boys — 7, 8-years-old, max — sprinting towards the swings. They were oblivious to me, straining and giggling, laughing at each other, and flying around me a flock of pigeons. It was beautiful, and made me pretty happy. And it didn’t cost a dime.

I was due to meet a new friend in the Barnes & Noble cafe at 3:00. But first, I wanted to get Ethan some Easter goodies, and get myself some new reading material. ‘The Poky Little Puppy’ (for Ethan): $8.99. ‘Speaking With The Angel’ (for me): $12.99. I grabbed a Fuji bottled water ($1.36), and found a table in the cafe (no easy feat, despite the beautiful weather outside which should have cleared the room). And then she walked in.

Yunno’ how when you meet someone for the first time you’re overly into your frontal lobe? And you say too much? And you’re too self-effacing? And maybe even sound kinda’ dumb? But overall you think, ‘Well, I guess that’s a fair representation of who I am.’ Since maybe I am a little too into my frontal lobe, a little vociferous, self-effacing, and even kinda’ nerdy. Yunno? Well that was me. Which was fine. ‘Cuz, well, I guess that’s a fair representation of who I am. Plus media big wig, aspiring documentarian, sometimes-screenwriter, novelist, memoirist, and part-time rock star.

Oh, and I had another water ($1.36).

Uptown 25 blocks to New York Hair Co. for a trim. Andrew wasn’t ready for me, so I flipped through ‘Interview’ magazine (a fawning Q&A with Courtney Love, bless her heart), and acted nonplussed when Matt Dillon walked in. Then the haircut: $46. Well worth it because Andrew is hilarious, plays rock music, and generally presides over his little corner of the Upper West Side like Mick Jagger-meets-Bill Clinton. Plus, he does what he can with my, er, hair.

MTA: $2
Stuffed bunny (for Ethan): $8.99
Cab (back to Chris’ with my guitar): $5
Four Sapporos: $14

Ethan was waiting for me as I climbed the five stories to Chris and Jen’s. He stopped crying, and started giggling. And when I gave him the bunny, he hugged it tight, buried his face in it, and laughed outright. Then he dragged it behind him as he crawled through the apartment. I fed him squash and yogurt (not at the same time), then Jen gave him pieces of a tofu hot dog. And get this: the kid shared with me! Ten months old, my genius nephew, and he’s sharing. First he put a piece of tofu dog into his mouth, then he fed me one. Unbelievable.

As Ethan ran out of energy (rapidly), I taught Chris some songs. You may recall, Dear Reader, that I bought him a guitar in November. Well, I’m pleased to report that he’s progressing nicely. And were it not for his propensity towards Grateful Dead songs, I’d be pretty encouraged.

Then I walked home. En route, I dropped $3 for an ice cream cone — butter pecan on a sugar cone — my first of 2004. And I stopped off at the corner store for garbage bags, milk, and one last Sapporo. Cost? $8.

The moral to this story, then? I’m glad you asked, as I’m due at my brother’s for a run/ride combo in less than eight hours. The moral to this story, Dear Reader, is that the best things in life are free. Though some things — ice cream, for example — might cost ya’ a buck or two.

But oh man, it’s all so worth it.

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