|It’s up to you New York, New York|
It took two days to fully understand and figure out the layout of Manhattan, but I finally did. Still, I have to ponder a moment, and I’m not quite familiar with the distinct neighborhoods. My friend and I frequented Stuyvesant often, as her friends attend the New School.
I imagined that the hustle and bustle would be intensely hectic and overwhelming— but I was proven wrong. Yes, the city is alive and unlike any environment I have ever experienced. But I found myself managing it just fine.
Upon arrival, I took public transportation to Brooklyn from LGA. I admit that it wasn’t the wisest decision I have ever made, but it is evident that, although scarred, I am here writing this. There were three transfers: the Q33 bus to the 7 train; the 7 train to the G train (and there was one transfer on the 7 but I stayed on the 7 line). I was doing well until I almost stayed on the train to Manhattan; luckily, I followed my gut and transferred. Otherwise, I would have said hello to Times Square. My train stopped for 20 minutes while a stalled train farther down the line was cleared— because I was underground, I had no cell service. Needless to say, my mother, who demanded and requested that I keep her updated, was freaking out. When I resurfaced to the world above, my phone exploded with numerous texts:
– How is it going?
– Are you ok?
– What is happening?
– I’m freaking out.
And I called her immediately— she was relieved.
Merry and I were united on her campus. After freshening up a bit, we were off into the night— Chinese, then Manhattan.
Side note: the Chinese was the best $6 I have ever spent in my life. There was SO MUCH for how relatively little I paid.
|The G train|
Taking the subway was very simple after a few times. Manhattan is a large grid, easy to navigate— Avenues running north and south, streets east and west. I met her friends who attend the New School, and we spent the night (technically morning, because we walked a friend home to SoHo at 5:00 a.m.).
After waking up, Merry and I walked to Murray’s bagels, where Mary-Kate Olson can be found sometimes looking at food. We ate breakfast in Washington Square park, watching people— and for me, reveling in the city. As I ate my bagel with lox spread, I thought of all the great writers who live and have lived in New York. I wonder if I could make my life work that way, if people would read and enjoy and share what I write— is my skill potentially that of the classics? I don’t want to retreat with my tail between my legs. But who says I have to be in New York to do this? Why can’t I do this from any place in the world?
It originates from the charm and wit of the city, which matches my own. The exuberance of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” equals my own exuberance; class and charm might as well be my middle names (giggle). And the line, “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere” challenges me to conquer the city.
The rest of Sunday was spent exploring the city, and we visited “the water.” Peeking out now and then, the sun made a few appearances— but generally, it was cloudy throughout the entirety of my trip. In the evening, we went to the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre, where very funny people perform, some of them move on to SNL. We had to wait in line for the free show, so we took turns holding our place; Merry and I went to some wannabe Mexican place and scarfed down yummy fajitas. The thing about New York is that, despite whatever connotations it has with expense, food is relatively cheap— you just have to ignore the cleanliness of the establishment, because it’s the best food ever. We got free tickets to the later show (which we heard is always better). It was certainly worth standing outside for hours, talking to some dweeb who wouldn’t shut up about God knows what.
|Looking west in Central Park|
Periodically, I would stop and squeal— the entire trip, it took me a while to grasp the fact that I was, indeed, in New York City. Monday proved to be a very interesting evening, when we went to Merry’s friend’s show at a small, obscure venue—you’ve probably never heard of it— in Williamsburg. I should note that he starred in The Squid and the Whale. You know that one scene in the library when he…that’s him. You will also note that his father is a distinguished actor (cough, Kevin Kline, cough). So is his mother, Phoebe Cates. Semi-star struck—I hadn’t seen any of their works, the whole lot of them—I was eager yet hesitant to approach either celebrity. But I realized that I was not the paparazzi, nor was I about to converse drunkenly, like a poor girl was doing quite foolishly. His reaction was subtle and he appeased her for quite some time. Merry then approached the couple and introduced me— we chatted about St. Louis and how Kevin is from Creve Coeur. Note: he says “Crev co-er,” very French and proper like. Normally, I’m a fan of this, but my initial reaction (which has prevailed) was, internally, You’re from there. You should know that it’s “creeve core.” I giggled, and he showed us his multiple dictionaries on his iPhone. I don’t think I’ll ever forget what “gaff” means. Thanks, Kevin.
|Upper East Side|
The next turn of events was unfortunate and fateful. As we were leaving, Merry dropped her already crippled iPhone and it shattered. Owen had her old one at his parents’ house— the next day, after adventuring Central Park, I found myself in their apartment where each item had sentimental value and significance. The iPhone was nowhere to be found, and Kevin lent Merry his old one (which I’m not convinced he knew exactly all its features, stumbling with the SIM card). The entire experience was surreal and lackluster, because I had never seen any of their performances, nor had I heard of their movies. Friends told me I should have stolen something. Why? “Because that’s what you do when you’re in a celebrity’s house!”
|Hustle and bustle|
The rest of the evening was monumental. At a coffee shop on 1st and 14th, Merry and I recounted the pros and cons of growing up in Jefferson City. We concluded that we might appreciate the city more than others, because we have had to struggle to get to the hustle and bustle. I value the protection JC gave me, but I value even more how curious it made me about the rest of the world— the little variety of culture left me with a void of diversity. Merry made it there, and so can I.
On the way home, I was very somber. I’m sure thousands of people have visited and been caught up in its glory— that same thousand have left and yearned to return. I say I want to live in a given place after visiting. This time, it’s different. I thoroughly connected with the city and want to live there for a while. And speaking with Kevin Kline, he put it in the best way: “New York has the best, and it has the worst.” I’m reminded of Wear Sunscreen, a pseudo commencement speech written by Mary Schmich. She writes, “Live in New York once, but leave before it makes you hard.” I think I will.