Tales of New York
For our tenth wedding anniversary, we spent ten days in New York as Autumn became Winter last year. From our first ever Thanksgiving dinner...shopping on Fifth and skating on Wollman...falling for the personalities of individual boroughs...hailing cabs...and literally hanging out of the window of our apartment in the dead of night in our pajamas in the rain...these are just some of the tales we collected along the way :)
It's so hard to take in a city like this in such a short time, and even harder to do it justice in words on a 'page'...I've backspaced and re-worded sentences many times over...I'm just going to jump in and see what comes out :)
I've never been so cold/excited/exhausted/enamoured with a city before. I loved the moment of spilling out onto the platform of the subway stop we were aiming for...climbing the stairs with the crowds...where the warmth of the underground met the chill of the streets above...surfacing not knowing what we were going to see next. Yes, there were moments when we huddled away from the crowd, pawing madly at our iPhones in our gloves trying to understand if we'd landed where we intended (my perennial lack of a sense of direction did not do me any favours...God bless Google Maps & Luke's ability to navigate). But those moments of bobbing up to the surface and discovering I was actually looking at Bloomingdales/Madison Square Garden/Central Park/Bergdorfs in person...there may have been a few skipped heartbeats :)
From day one we realised this was a whole other kind of cold...and we went back to our apartment building quick smart to layer up and shift buying a real deal winter jacket (Zara, puffy) to the top of the list. I ended up bringing back 10kg worth of coats and scarves (love you QANTAS!)...I'm sitting under the air conditioning vent writing this and dreaming of our autumn so I can wear them again! My "super stylish" entrance to Bloomingdales involved me actually being blown through the door in a mini wind storm swirling with newspaper pages and autumn leaves...pausing briefly to ask the doorman what was the fastest route to gloves/scarves....and then being distracted by the crazy low prices at the Clinique counter on the way. I cradled hot chocolates in my mittened hands just for warmth...this was the closest I would ever get to a winter Christmas and I LOVED it.
Luke may have been in NYC to live out his NBA dreams, but I was there to seek out experiences from every movie/show I'd ever seen...the piano scene from BIG, ice skating from Serendipity...soup from Seinfeld...Shake Shack from Something Borrowed...the list (and oh boy, there was a list) went on :)
Late night pizza by the slice; how easy it was to hail a cab when your feet were so tired; the Christmas decorations; bagels for breakfast; the steaming street vents and icy gutters; falling for the Chrysler building over Empire State/Rockefeller; the subway performers; that it seemed nothing ever closed; how quiet and peaceful it appeared from 102 floors above; how friendly everyone was; how it felt to be standing at the site of 9/11...that tiny little church that survived...and the footprints of the towers...and running my fingers over the endless engraved names...
Greenwich/West Village was one of my favourites...loved sitting on a park bench with a Magnolia Bakery cupcake in hand, people and dog watching. To me, it felt the most New York...not as chaotic, packed with charm. We booked a portrait shoot with Caroline Frost as our anniversary pressie...met her in West Village...walked from here through the Meatpacking District to the High Line. She was sweet and bubbly...and crazy talented...what I wouldn't give to take her photography skills and transplant them to my brain! It was one of the best things we did overseas and I would've said that before we even got to see our photos...they were just icing on the cake :)
I watched the "Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorfs" movie before we went, and made a beeline for the holiday windows...ended up visiting them three times...in-credible. I put on my best attempt at looking like I belonged somewhere this fancy, and headed straight for the Christmas ornament department...where I was almost too scared to breathe lest I accidentally knock a $300+ glass bauble off the tree. Talk about people watching...it was very entertaining! I watched a little old lady in a fur coat being followed around by a suited personal shopper. She was trying to choose a candle...he was lifting glass cloches from over the tops of the candles and wafting the scent towards her with his hand...after which much discussion was had before they moved to the next. It was at that moment that I realised we weren't in Dusk anymore Toto ;)
The Nutcracker, as performed by the New York City Ballet. I stole this idea from an episode of Will & Grace...and had recently become obsessed with the web series City Ballet...so to see dancers I recognised was awesome. The kids who dance in The Nutcracker...so freaking talented at such a young age. I was probably mixing mud pies with sticks about the same age they were landing these iconic roles in one of the best ballet companies in the world!
Oh - I almost forgot the pajama story! See our sweet little apartment above...with the standard air conditioner unit hanging out of the window? The building's temperature is controlled by a central thermostat in the basement (OMG that basement was deliciously scary...much like that episode of Friends...but I'm getting distracted again). The building is so hot that you have to have the windows permanently cracked open no matter how cold it is outside...and one night it rained. We got used to the sounds of the city wafting in our windows, but this night there was a sound that was impossible to ignore and it drove us crazy...like I'm talking at some point we wondered how far the nearest hotel was and would we be willing to trek there in our pajamas and check in just to get some peace. It took FOREVER to figure out what it was...the rain outside running into the top of the air conditioning vent and then dripping all the way down inside...except it sounded so completely alien that we had no idea it was related to the rain. Finally once I realised it was air conditioner related...I was determined to stop it somehow. So, as it was blowing a gale outside...and raining...six stories up...I hung out one window and Luke hung out the other, and we were throwing layers of bathroom towels and plastic shopping bags from one side to the other trying to get them to land on the air conditioning vents. It's not all that funny now that I see it written down...I think we were just majorly sleep deprived...but the silence after that moment (without dropping any bags/towels to the ground I might add)...was the best thing we ever heard...I wonder what the owners of the apartment thought happened to their towels after we left :)
So...NYC...the longer it's been since we've come back, the more I crave returning. I heard people say that it does that, gets its hooks into your psyche somehow...it's like no other place you've ever been. I didn't think it would win me over like that...given I'm the kind of person who needs space and quiet to recharge...but it did. I hope there's a next time :)