They said it will happen. They were not clear on exactly when. “They” referring to the blogs and guides on New York. I read them all. There is a multitude of them all over the internet. I made a list of things to do from the articles covering titles including; “8 things to do in New York”, “10 things not to miss in New York”, “Make sure you see this/do that when you are in New York”, “what to pack for a trip to New York in Summer” and “Sex and the City in 5 days”. Some might misread it as sex IN the city, but any girl would know Carrie Bradshaw – if you like or dislike her. These articles were scanned and speed read and all neatly summarised and plotted onto an excel spreadsheet.
I have NEVER, ever prepared for a trip using an excel spreadsheet.
For some reason, I realised I needed to Carpe Diem the living day out of this spontaneous adventure if only to make myself sleep better at night knowing I was actually supposed to upgrade my computer. But I was not upgrading my computer. I wanted to Feed My Hearts’ Desire, and was on a plane via Doha and on my way to New York 10 days after booking the flight.
Anyway, I am digressing. My heart’s desire.
I arrived. I arrived in New York. I arrived. Yes, and that is pretty much what I felt. I A-R-R-I-V-E-D. That feeling they talked about on the blogs and guides…I didn’t quite feel it at the airport or when I booked into my Airbnb apartment in a side street in Brooklyn. It happened somewhere between having my face stuffed with a pretzel in Central Park and walking on 5th Avenue thinking “O – M – G! This is New York!” It is not something you THINK, actually. It is something that hits you between your brows and moves up your nostrils and down your throat and into your inner most being and pumps through your veins.
It takes about 2 to 3 hours before it really kicks in, just after the excel spreadsheet planning vanishes like a puff of smoke, doctors say.
I am still on Day 1. I will get to the point.
My Heart’s desire?
To feel alive. Like, really ALIVE. And big and small at the same time.
In a big world.
In a big city.
In a big dream.
I always want to feel I live in a dream and yet know it is the truth and MY reality. That is what happened on day 1. I arrived. In a dream.
Alice and a white rabbit.
Walking the hood. I have NO idea how people “do” New York in 2 or 3 days. In fact, you do not DO New York. It does you. It is a little like a blind date that starts on a Friday and ends Monday morning. My day 2 was so jam packed I am sure some visitors will manage only a third of the itinerary in one day. I suppose it helped traveling solo. You move faster, less distracted.
To list the whole days’ itinerary in one go will be like telling your best friend that just broke up with her boyfriend how happy you are in love. Not gonna happen. I can say that Brooklyn Bridge was pretty and big and partly caused my sunburn. I lost track of time. I hovered. Took photos. Looked. Just looked. Stared. Looked. Took photos. I also got interviewed by high school kids. It wasn’t as exciting as it might sound. There was no exchanging autographs and no camera crew or paparazzi. They did an interview on the bridge asking New Yorkers what they loved about their city. Pause right there! They asked NEW YORKERS… Bonus point – they thought I am local! Yeah! I liked that.
The Statue of Liberty trip was the second reason for my sunburn.
And it made me cry. They get you to the island on a boat while sharing history and interesting facts about the city. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining. As you get closer to the statue, they switch the engines off and turn the volume up: Alicia!!!!
“Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it from New York, New York, New York!”
NO! I KNOW how this works!!! You make us soft and then the song! The song! I cried. A little. To our back, the skyscrapers lined up and in front, her beauty! They turned the boat so everyone could get a good look. My heart turned upside. The sky was a little bit brighter and slightly more blue.
My hearts’ desire?
You might think it was the bridge or museum or the ferry or the fairly nice park or the beach or the coffee and bagel… perhaps it was all of it in a brilliant mix and tied up in a Broadway show (Boy, do I want to dance and sing on stage in a tight leather outfit American Psyco style). I am actually not sure what to pick out. It was perfect. My second date with the City that Never Sleeps was just that: Perfect.
Post-Impressionist was a predominantly French movement led by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat. We are talking the years between 1886 and 1905 with the artists discussing their opinions in cafés on the streets of Paris. It was an interesting time and the era brought about a lot of NEW ideas and new ways of approaching art that fascinated me the most in Art History.
I have always had a soft spot for this group. Their movement was against the norm, they pushed boundaries and ideas. I often feel close to van Gogh and Cezanne, not because of their actual work, but I too like to discuss ideas around art, marketing and specifically nowadays social media in the way I imagine the guys sitting on the street of Paris, agreeing and disagreeing with peers.
On day 3 I walked the spirals of the Guggenheim enjoying the work of some of the greatest. A little later a brilliant view of the city from the Top of the Rock and that afternoon a post-impressionist scene played out with university friend that’s’ settled nicely in NY and I haven’t seen since we graduated. We discussed what’s happened in our lives since our innocent 20’s with the help of a good bottle of red wine, aged cheese, a light breeze, just off the Rockefeller as the sun was setting. We felt connected, young, wild and free. But not too young. Perhaps more wise than young. It is good to feel wise when you have wine.
The conversation with Minzel continued over breakfast and along the halls of another art gallery, the park, the shops. We let our hair down (with a little help from the unexpected rain). Speaking of walking, the blogs I used in my research also mentioned that walking is big in the Big Apple. I can confirm: It is big, like really big! And I joined in. In a big way. If I had a pedometer, it would have broken or failed.
Sing with me Jay-Z “Brooklyn we go hard. Brooklyn we go hard.”
So on day 4, I moved to Manhattan.
It is both terrifying and exciting to call up an old connection. Jann and I met by pure fluke on a trip I was not supposed to be on in a country I was not supposed to be in (read here about the Being Bullied to Bali and back – oh – I still need to write that). As I booked my flight for the trip, I made contact with Jann as we are still connected via social media and checked if his flat in Manhattan is available for rent. Not only was there space for me, but they were in town during my visit. What a bonus – we could catch up after all these years. And that is exactly what we did. We caught up. So on day 4 I did more walking, suitcase in hand, and I moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan for the last few days. Between kiddies needing nappies changed and getting fed, we caught up and exchanged stories. It was wonderful.
An important note at this point: It is no secret that I am a romantic, but it needs to be put straight – I am by no means a romantic about love (per se). I am not romantic in the way people focus on love in boy meets girl (or girl meets girl or boy meets boy, for that matter). But I am terribly romantic about life. The whole thing; fear, excitement, happiness, food and wine, places and spaces and sounds, tastes, smells, and music. And people too.
My hearts desire Day 5; “Make it simple, but significant”
Stay connected and celebrate the beautiful thing we call LIFE.
There were more exploring and adventures on day 5 and 6. A breakfast in a diner, a walk around the Meat Packing District, China Town, Little Italy, a 3-hour ride along the Hudson River on a city bike, to name a few. But let’s wrap up this once in a life-time, spontaneous trip….
“Manhattan, Madison Avenue, the Met
Have we met?
You look me straight in the eyes
As we walk each other pass
You are different to Britain.
Not too sure where to begin.
But you are happy and inviting and believe in yourself
And some say you like guns more than you should
But I would come back, anytime, if I could.”
Footnote: My computer totally crashed two weeks after my return. But who needs a computer anyway?
Enjoyed this? On your way to the Big Apple? You migth also enjoy: What to pack for NEW YORK in summer