April 14, 2013

I Love New York

Every time I come to New York City, I fall a little bit more in love.

It's always a completely new experience.  It seems to me, that if you wanted, you could do new things and have completely different experiences every day in the greater NYC area, and I don't think you'd ever run out of things to do, as things change faster here than you could possibly accumulate all of the potential experiences.  Sure, this is generally, philosophically true about any sphere of life, but that's trite.  In New York, the reality of the scale is so overwhelming that it makes me stop to reconsider my outlook.

My first trip to the city was with N.  I think we must have been barely 21 or 22 years old, and we were niave.  We had tons of European travel under our belts, but we were very mistaken in our plans for NYC and we were lucky to both check into (after 2 AM  -- and not be left in the street) and successfully get out of the sketchy hostel in Harlem.  Once the sun was up, we escaped to the nearest subway with some other international hostelers (who were equally freaked out by the open heroin use).  We immediately went to a travel agent and rented an apartment on the Upper East side for the remainder of our stay -- talk about an example of the various extremes that are all available in such a small physical area.

The next trip was also with N, but we were visiting a high school friend of mine who had an apartment, so that one was less tramatic and more culturally full of museums and bar hopping and typical 20-something NYC fun while couch-surfing with local trusted friends.

Several years went by until E & I ripped through a 47-hour tornado of a trip as our first joint visit to his Mother's hometown. We attended a law school colleague's 30th birthday party and were awed by the east-coasters' abilities to drink 'til 4 AM and beyond.  From there, we visited E's grandparents and uncle in Brooklyn and were introduced to a great multi-generational perspective on this wonderful city.

Almost 2 years later, I came back as part of a married couple and we did a much more traditional business oriented trip, with both of us in town for work.

6 weeks after that, we were back, taking time out for friends' wedding festivities and E's Grandfather's 90th birthday party events (Holy Family!).

Several years of constant work rushed by for a few years, and then, we returned, appropriately, to both work and visit N, who'd since moved here.  (N, was, at this point, 3/6 and counting, on being involved in my NY trips.)

The next year, I returned to NYC solo, for N's bachelorette weekend, and, of course, more work.  I thought I'd been clever to book my own hotel room away from the rest of the party in their cramped apartment in the heart of midtown.   Of course, the joke was on me, as I actually did end up having to work from my hotel room, and I missed half the festivities.  But, I had a blast hanging out in NYC with a group of some of the coolest ladies I've ever known (including N, E2, and friends). (N count:  4/7)

And here we are, third year in a row where I've made the trip.  Work, of course.  But tons of social stuff as well.  In fact, this may be the most stereotypical NY trip we've ever done.  We landed and stayed the night at a JFK airport, then headed in for a day in Queens with N and R & new baby F.  So cute! (bonus -- N count: 5/8 -- should I officially declare NYC as my N city?)

Saturday, E & I headed to Manhattan on the N-line and met up with R at his place in Union Square. We all went on a run to the highline, then walked the highline as quickly as possible between the crowds of tourists (super impressed with the reclamation project, New York! Well Done!), ran the Riverside to 34th, then weaved back to Madison Square Park, past the ridiculous line at the Shake Shack, over to Gramercy Park, and finally, we stopped at the crowds on 7th Ave and walked back to Union Square for a lunch from R's favorite local falafel vendor.

Our afternoon plan had been to head to the Museum of Natural History with E's folks.  But, by the time we checked into our midtown hotel, they'd decided we didn't have enough time to make a proper visit of it.  So, instead, we sat around their hotel room and caught up over a bottle of Turley Old Vine they'd bought on one of their trips to visit us, had been aging for at least 5 to 8 years, and took the time to dig out of the cellar and put in checked baggage for the trip. (Yeah, I hit the in-law jackpot, it's true).

With our afternoon free, R graciously agreed to give us a tour of the NY Google office before dinner, and we took him up on it.  For E and me, it was more or less what we expected (just buried in the port authority high-rise building between telecoms instead of in MV, sprawled between whatever buildings they could get), but for E's parents, it was a generational shock at the ball pits and food and play areas and scooters.  The experience, will, no doubt, give them tons of cocktail party fodder.  Which is good, 'cause they insisted on treating us all to dinner at the super fancy and delicisous Tocqueville, so at least they have something to show for it (evil grin).

Today, we did our best to be awake and head downstairs to meet E's parents, chipper on EDT at 9:15 in the rented car at the hotel entrance.  We drove through the Bronx, Yonkers, and up to northern Westchester County, where E's maternal grandparents are now in an assisted living facility facility.  At the far end of the drive I realized that the conversation I regularly have with people about how easy it is to get to truly rural areas from San Francisco is *also* true from Manhattan.  It kind of blew my mind.

And then there were E's grandparents.

I love old people.  And E's grandparents are super old, which, in my book mean super awesome.  Plus, they love me and him and his family, so I love them even more than I normally love old people, which is a ton, as I mentioned.  E's grandfather is so dotingly in love with and anchored by his wife that it takes my breath away.  Meanwhile, E's gran is adorably concerned about E's grandfather in an alternating nagging, caring and sending extra food across the table way that I can't help but find it adorable -- she watches his every move, telling him what to order because he can't remember what he likes and is overwhelmed by the menu (which he appreciates) and cutting him off when he drones on (which he tolerates and even seems to enjoy with a ridiculously good humor).

In short, they are that exemplary couple who have become a singular unit with disparate external functions.  And seeing them makes me realize that this is what I want.  I have other desires in life, but supreme above them is that I want to do a good enough job of living as a wife with my husband that we age well together and our oldest years become a shared old joint mind-body-soul.  I see E's grandparents (and parents on their own way) and can only hope that I may be so blessed.

So, yes, of course I love New York.  Food.  Sites to see.  Friends.  And Family.

And, of course, I can't wait to come back.

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