Our first night in New York, I dreamed of gunshots but woke up ready to conquer the world. There’s something wonderful about the first real day of vacation—you’re not that tired yet, and you’re just so ridiculously excited to be out of your normal environment.
We started the day with the hotel’s continental breakfast (our only free hotel breakfast of the trip). But this was not like the continental breakfasts we’re used to. This was actually good. Huge bagels, about a dozen different pastries, organic yogurt, cereal, muffins, bowls of ripe cut-up fruit, juices that actually tasted like juice and not watery from-concentrate beverages. The best part? Chocolate croissants. Um, yes please. And look at this place:
After breakfast, we headed over to the Empire State Building, where both Jesse and I conquered our fears. Jesse’s afraid of heights. He did fine. And I talked to strangers while we were waiting in line. I know, right? Jesse was buying our tickets and there was a woman and her two kids standing next to me and I thought, you know, my mother-in-law (who is one of the friendliest people I know and can strike up a conversation with anyone who’s got a pulse) would totally talk to these people. But normally I would not. So, in an attempt to get out of my comfort zone and stretch myself as a person, I asked the woman where they were from. We had a pleasant conversation, though it was probably about as awkward as I thought it might have been, and I think we were both relieved when the ticket-bearers arrived and we could all leave for the elevators. I was proud of myself anyway.
By the way, did you know the Empire State Building and I share the same initials? Cool, huh?
There were plenty of people there, the crowds a permanent fixture of our trip. But it was early in the day and the sun wasn’t too hot yet and a German tourist took pictures for a group of Japanese students and I had a rather magnanimous feeling about the whole thing. I thought about the human experience, everything we had in common, you know, thoughts that are easier to think when you’re above the city streets looking down, when you are face-to-face with the beauty of human endeavor, the steel and glass, and right in the middle of it all an expanse of green. The marriage of the human and the divine.
From there, we hopped on the subway and made our way toward Central Park. We saw the Apple Store, where I tried an iPhone and failed miserably to type on it. After trying to send an e-mail to my mother, I handed the phone to Jesse and said in disgust, “Get it away from me.” Then he typed while I dictated. Apparently, I am not cool enough for the iPhone. So sad.
Next stop, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
It started to rain, so we took refuge in a ritzy mall with a giant Whole Foods under it. We waited out the rain and then headed back to our hotel, stopping at Grand Central on our way.
After dinner, Jesse’s feet were hurting and he was pooped, but I was charged up and ready for more, so I deposited him back at the hotel and then headed out to wander about a bit. I walked up 34th Street toward Broadway. I bought a little black headband with floppy, wispy “flowers” at H&M for like $2. Pleased with myself, I wandered up Broadway for a bit. A group of British girls asked me for directions and I pointed out the nearest subway stop but couldn’t help them much more than that.
As it was getting dark, I headed back to the hotel, feeling proud of myself for going it alone for a little while, feeling excited to be on vacation, looking forward to the rest of the trip.