Last week, I visited New York City for the first time. Despite living a mere two hours away from NYC as a child, I’d never experienced the Big Apple. I have plenty of memories of Philly (gray, pretzels, gray, more gray) but New York? None.
So when I got onto a plane at 5:30 AM last Tuesday, I had no idea what I was in for. I mean, people try to prepare you. My mother wrote a very careful itinerary including directions for getting a cab. I was warned that the driving could be a little scary.
Let me tell you. I am TERRIFIED of planes. Like, I cried most of the way to New York (quietly and with dignity…sort of) but that cab ride from LaGuardia to Riverdale? Ha…hahahaha. Hahahahaha.
(It wasn’t quite as scary as the ride from the Bronx to the Met, but at least I had my big sister to protect me then.)
I am so glad to be home where there are proper lane divisions and driving is DRIVING, not furious salmon fighting upstream and/or for dominance. Everything was so much FASTER up there that me and Husband felt like a pair of true bumpkins. Luckily we had my sister to lead us from the Met to St. John the Divine to Broadway and the Bronx Zoo. She compacted a true tour in the space of three days–a miraculous feat, honestly, when you consider she also wrangles three young kids.
So here’s the quick and dirty on New York:
Bus rides can take two hours. The subway involves running and confronting the most harrowing ranges of your personal bubble. Never hang out in the road, because a Caterpillar going 50 mph might run you down as soon as a Lexus. The roads are pure Darwinism. Survival of the fittest, whether you’re driving or trying to amble across. Yet somehow, passengers still thank people when they get off the bus and people can be very cheery and polite.
Everything is big and close together, and deep in the city it feels like you’re navigating around some hectic man-made mountain range. The buildings have a way of making you feel like a mere speck amongst thousands. When I followed my sister through the subway and up into Time Square, I wanted to clutch onto the back of her jacket because I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen so many people in one space before in my life. I ended up clutching Husband’s jacket instead and watching my surroundings very owlishly because I was experiencing some kind of weird deja vu. I’d seen the city countless times on a screen, but never in person. The screen doesn’t provide the scent of street carts and the sensory overload of hundreds of flashing screens and people shouting for your attention while you try to follow your long-legged navigator.
I followed my sister through a number of cool places. She took us to the Met, and I enjoyed the Asian exhibit while Husband dorked out over the medieval weaponry. After that, she took us to Alice’s Tea Cup, which was rather lovely. I had a white chocolate strawberry scone that was worth flying up for again at a later date.
Thursday, we took off a few hours early for a show and wandered through Columbia’s campus and St. John the Divine. I’m fairly certain that when Cassandra Clare was imagining the Institute, she was thinking of St. John the Divine. It’s IMMENSE. HUGE. I had a true sense of awe walking around in there, and was so pleased at how quiet it was. I’ve never been in a cathedral that big, and wow, I wish I could have used it somehow for a book idea. (Unfortunately, I already picked North Brother Island, which I was able to vaguely see as we crossed over the East River a few times.) It was a nice pause before we headed into Time Square to go see Aladdin.
I’ll say something for Broadway. It defines entertaining. The stagecraft and the sheer glitz of the performance was unlike anything I’d seen back home. I’m not usually big on musicals, but this one made me realize why people make such a big deal out of it.
Our last day was spent almost entirely at the Bronx zoo. We met up with a very old friend who drove four hours just to see me and Jeremy, and we traversed the entire zoo. The butterfly garden was wonderful, I enjoyed the birds probably more than anyone else did, and I got to spend time with a friend I hadn’t seen in five years. We picked up like we’d seen each other the day before, same as always, and had a very nice time giggling and just BEING with each other.
(I also really liked the peacocks everywhere. It’s very clear who actually runs the zoo.)
All in all, it was a good trip. My sister and I got to spend some time together–which is very nice considering how far apart we are. Our family has always been spread between the North and South, and there’s no telling where she’ll live next. However, I did manage to cope with being on not one, but three planes, so hopefully travelling will get easier for me one day. At least I can survive plane flights.
And New York.
For someone as anxious as myself, the fact that I did not experience a SINGLE panic attack in New York is pretty phenomenal. On the planes, yes, but they were easier to control than in the past. It proved to me that if I can survive the subway, terrifying cab rides, planes, Times Square, and nearly getting lost a few times, I can survive anything. It gave me a huge victory over anxiety, which was almost as nice as seeing my sister.
So that was the trip! IN THE HEART OF THE HOLLOW FOREST is still in progress (now sitting at 81k, oy vey). I’m close(r) to finishing it. In the meantime, I’ve been making some decent coin with freelance editing projects, trying to get over a rather nasty tooth extraction, and Early Summer. It’s already 90 degrees here in South Carolina, and spring is gone for another year. My yard projects are about to become downright hellish, but once they’re done…they’ll be DONE.
If they get done. Book first.
See you guys next month!