It’s been 10 years since my first trip to New York City. That first one was to get me out of the house a month after Richard died. My sister invited me up for a long weekend in The Big City. We ate at Gramercy Tavern and Olives, went to the 9/11 Memorial at the old church in the Financial District, shopped at a spring market in Grand Central, and watched a movie about the cosmos at the Museum of Natural History. We took naps, too. And when I was alone, I stared off into the middle distance as much as I could.
Today marks my fifth trip back and I’ve noticed how much has changed in ten years.
- When I saw these ladies getting on the parking shuttle with a big white garment bag, I asked, “Are you the bride?” She said, “We BOTH are!” They had been planning a wedding in New York for a year and what do you know…now the rest of the country has caught up with marriage rights. They’re getting married on a yacht in the East River in a few days. Upon hearing us chatting about the wedding excitement and the family who were coming up to join them, an older woman on the shuttle asked the women, “Are y’all related?” The bride on the left replied, while pointing at herself and her beloved, “WE are getting married. To EACH OTHER.” Congratulations to the brides!
- I had to laugh as I unpacked my suitcase…black black black and some white because it’s July. The first time Gay and I were here, she said, “You’re easy to find on the sidewalk because you’re the only one wearing color.” I guess I have absorbed the cosmopolitan ethos. Back home, I wear stetchy pants and ratty tshirts to Lowe’s and I don’t bother shaving my legs. So am I donning a costume in NYC? No. This is me too. This is me in the city.
- My first destination: FAO Schwarz, which closed its flagship store off Fifth Avenue today. So these friendly guys are looking for work as of tomorrow–boo! It’s sad to think that the Big Piano will be stuffed in some warehouse in Jersey. The inside of the store was bedraggled pandemonium. In the candy department, employees from all over the store were filling up bags for themselves while the candy manager winked at them and waved them past the register. Vivi had asked for a kitty cat, but I couldn’t find a damn thing. The shelves were picked over (check out the carnage on the animals display: the only thing left was vultures and buffalo, so I took some artistic license.
- All the cabs are hybrids. And every corner is jammed with sleek black Uber vehicles picking up riders.
- I know my way around. I understand long blocks and short blocks and uptown vs downtown. I also know when it’s time to duck into Central Park. Thank you, Mr. Olmstead for a place that has enough leaves to hear a rustle, enough space to catch a breeze, enough shade to cool the summer. Come to think of it, I’ve learned a lot more about “enough” in the last ten years.
- I have this magical device that fits in my purse and holds books. And today it has a book by Harper Lee. I struggled with whether I would read “Go Set a Watchman” because of the shadowy nature of Ms. Lee’s participation in the publication. But I couldn’t resist. Here’s Jean Louise’s explanation of why anyone would bother living in New York City:
- I know macarons have been around forever in France, but DAMN I’m glad they have become popular over here. This is what $12 of macarons looks like when you buy them at the Francois Payard Patisserie in the food halls under the Plaza Hotel (which now flies the Fairmont flag and a Saudi flag). I chose: dark chocolate, Coca-Cola, vanilla bean, salted caramel, cassis and violet. Well worth the splurge, especially when nibbled on a park bench while reading Harper Lee.
- Broadway theaters have always sold wine, but someone got smart and started putting it in these sippy cups! Nothing says “Wednesday night and Mama’s out on the town” like a $20 sippy cup of pinot grigio and a great seat at “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
- I have another amazing device in my purse that can be used to text a friend for a show recommendation, order a ticket to said show, transfer money to pay for said ticket, find directions to the theater…and take a picture of 45% of my head.
- That first time I visited this city? I was so worn out and sad. I’m not anymore. I’m grateful. For everything that was–thanks. For everything that will be–yes.