Hi Internet friends!
I’ve missed you.
The end of summer is a crazy time, isn’t it? It’s been wild for me. Between having friends visit from out of town, weekend getaways, weddings, and a quick trip to NYC, these past couple weeks have drenched my soul with joy, wrung it out all over my footsteps, and is now hanging to dry, like a new painting – fresh and thought provoking.
I want to share with you today my trip to New York City. There are endless photos (phone pictures blown up to all their grainy glory) and way too many selfies due to many solo excursions. I’m afraid I don’t apologize for them.
I was invited early August by my friends Joash and Michelle to come to NYC for a visit that month. They had just found an apartment in their dream neighborhood and their leases would be overlapping for about three weeks, allowing friends and family a place to stay should they have an opening to make the trip. I had just taken a week off for a family vacation in early July, along with most weekends for weddings and cottage getaways, so the notion of taking more time off and spend more money for another trip seemed a little out of the question. However, when it came down to the wire, I decided I couldn’t pass it up.
Ryan had close friends visiting from New Jersey the second to last week in August and offered me a one-way trip to the city. I found a cheap one-way flight back, and before I knew it, I was going.
I arrived late Sunday night after being stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge for over two hours. Bless Francis and Lisa, because had I decided to make that trip myself, I would have been in trouble. My accommodations turned out to be a beautiful high-ceiling studio with a cozy little mattress. All to myself.
The next day I did a lot of solo wandering. Michelle and Joash both had to work and Francis and Lisa were back to work and school also. My home away from home was a block away from the Hudson, however, so clearly I started my excursion there. Selfie to prove it.
I wandered for a few hours, eventually cutting back into the heart of the city. Michelle sent me a text just before noon asking if I would want to visit her at work and eat at her restaurant. I was walking as I read and stopped mid-step. Let me tell you a little about the restaurant Michelle works at. It’s called Jean-Georges, and has received four stars by the New York Times and three Michelin stars. It’s fine dining heaven, and sits on the southwest corner of Central Park while also overlooking Columbus Circle. Did I mention it’s also located in Trump Tower? So when Michelle asked if I wanted to have lunch there, I figured I would have a liquid lunch. As long as I could see and feel the ambiance, I was sold. I began my hundred block, ninety degree sun-blasted walk over and showed up with a “gorgeous glow” (aka dripping with disgusting all over sweat).
Michelle was working on the terrace that day, and seeing this stunning face made every ounce of sweat and every blister worth it. The cold martini helped also.
My happy heart found tuna tare tare on the menu, and for a price that didn’t terrify me, so I ran with it. It was decadent. I was then spoiled with fois gras brulee (not pictured) followed by butterscotch pudding and a perfectly paired port. I died.
I forget this guy’s name, but if you are anywhere near a food photo of mine, you will be asked to smile.
Angry/confused partial selfie to show the terrace.
And my view from my seat at the bar, clearly aware that I do not belong in such a fancy place, but totally soaking in every second.
After my lunch, Michelle showed me how to take the subway back to her neighborhood. I walked the streets for a couple more hours before deciding it was happy hour. I walked into this spot and found myself in a dark, we are talking nearly black, space, with a worn bar with two guests sipping cocktails and flaunting English accents. I sat down, smitten, and ordered a gin and tonic. Not four sips later, a voice came over the speaker system. It sounded like the voice of an old villain, the wicked witch of the west, maybe, only male. I couldn’t find the source until it popped up again, and a man fully garbed in a red velvet suit and top hat with a stringy black mop of hair stood behind the bar patrons. My eyes had finally adjusted to the dark, and when I took a moment to look around the bar as the crackly voice spoke I noticed there were full skeletons hanging from the ceiling. I didn’t stay for a second drink.
Instead, Joash met up with me after getting out of work and we decided to go over to Soho to walk through Little Italy and Chinatown, and find other spots to eat and drink.
At our last spot, a kitchen guy came out and gave me this enormous “sparkler” (which burnt the cuss out of my hand), to which Joash responded to by serenading me with “Happy Birthday.” We then drank Hennessy for free. A very Happy Un-Birthday to me.
Oh yeah, then the bartender did this.
The next morning, Michelle and I had plans to venture to Brooklyn, with a quick stop at her favorite coffee shop first called Whynot. Yes, we drank Morning Wine.
New Yorkers at their finest.
Our brunch choice, Egg.
The subways are smelly, disgusting, hot, and feel like murder.
It was a beautiful day exploring with my friend.
Since Michelle had to work that night, I walked 50+ blocks the the ferry and took it over to Hoboken to meet up with an old friend from college. I hadn’t seen her in years.
Her babe, Jack, who I got to meet for the first time!
You guys, I ate alligator. It was so good.
Pier 13 in Hoboken. Dinner, wine, friends, and good conversation.
Up and at ’em the next morning for my last day in NYC and spending it mostly with this cute thing. I walked over late morning to see their new place before heading out.
Cappuccinos and quiet.
Scenes from our walk on the High Line, a railway turned park above the streets. It’s gorgeous (and hot. Freaking hot that day.)
Ramen is the cool thing there, guys, so I ate at their favorite Ramen spot. So good.
Spicy margarita, mojito, and topped off with a free shot of rum accompanied by an orange squeeze and raw sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa. People ask what I did in NYC and I say I walked, ate, and drank at all the best spots with all the best people.
City selfie as I wandered the Upper East Side.
And then got two free drinks.
I subway-ed back after my afternoon solo adventures and over to Michelle and Joash’s for an evening on their patio. When I walked in, Michelle had music playing, candles lit, steak being cooked, bottles of wine ready to be opened, and this insane spread.
Every sense was rocked on this trip, but the conversations I had with friends about God and humanity and relationships and the solo time I had to think and soak everything in is what I took home with me. On the last night, as I sat with Michelle and Joash on the candle lit patio, we decided each of us would say something about God before our meal. I had felt overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious on this trip, and on the flip side I had felt peace far deeper than I had in a long time. I felt fulfillment and curiosity and anger and love. The journey that I am on (and that we are on) is vast with opportunities, but short. It’s leaking with extravagance, but bound by hours, by priorities, by standards put in place by society. At that moment when I had to say something about God I felt like He was and would continue to teach me in bizarre ways, through cocktails and kind strangers, through subways and chaotic crowds. I looked up and closed my eyes and took a deep breath of New York City’s potent air. “God is Crazy.” (totally with capital “C”)
That was all I could come up with. But I hope you feel the craziness of God. In whatever way that is, whether you want it or not, I hope it’s never what you expect.
I can’t believe I almost didn’t make that trip.
To Fran and Lisa, to Kelly and Nicole and baby Jack, to Joash and Michelle,
THANK YOU and Cheers!