Sunday, November 7, 2010

New York City: an Other Mommy Tale

J and I got to take a vacation. Just the two of us. To New York City.
Yes, it was totally amazing.
With a free place to stay with one of our favorite friends from college and an iconic city to explore, how could it not be, right? Unrestricted by nap times and bed times and unencumbered by diaper bags and strollers, we felt liberated (albeit a little lonely for our little man). Waiting for our plane in the Tucson airport, we realized, Hey! We're not responsible for anyone but ourselves! This feels SO WEIRD!!
GG came to Tucson and stayed with BB while J and I took a bite out of the Big Apple - it was such a blessing knowing that BB was loved and safe (and probably a little spoiled) while we embarked on the trip of a lifetime.
The trip of a lifetime.
I keep using that phrase to describe our trip, and what I mean by that is that I will never forget this trip, ever. I will never forget the freedom, the exploration, the excitement, and the culture J and I experienced in those five days. Our time together in New York City will go down as a Personal Record in the statistics of our marriage, a goal in the World Cup of our relationship, a bestseller in the volume-filled library of our life together.

And now, an exhaustive photographic tour of New York City, as seen by J & K:
Listening to Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z on the plane as we got ready to land at JFK

My first subway stop EVER!
(J had been to NYC once a couple of years ago for less than 24 hours - he had a work conference in Rhode Island and took the train to see our friends.) We are in love with public transportation. We felt so much more connected to the city than if we had been in a car.

Thanks to a 3-hour time difference and no built-in tiny-human-alarm clock, J and I slept until 12:40 pm the first day - AUGH! We awoke panicked that we were sleeping away our vacation, but at least we were well-rested.

Street hot dogs in Times Square - Thanks to a recommendation from a friend (who helped me plan our trip) we weren't afraid to try them. (Yes, I'm eating a hot dog. No, this is not a normal occurrence. But I figured it's a New York thing - when in Rome, right? Also, I was really hungry.)

The Times Square shot. For those of you who are wondering (like I was), Times Square is basically just a big commercial.
But in this moment, it's an encouraging commercial. Great Times Are Waiting, Times Square.

Here we are sitting on the double-decker bus tour - the bus tour had both tourist and resident stamps-of-approval, so we knew we wanted to do it. Our favorite thing we learned about the city was that the same family has been building wooden rooftop water tanks for buildings all over New York for over a century.

Empire State Building, as seen from a double-decker tour bus

The Flatiron building - J really liked this building

My first sighting of the Dean & Deluca that the D&D in Felicity is modeled after - J sweetly researched this ahead of time for me. Now's probably a good time to tell you that Felicity was a big part of my NYC trip. I'm actually surprised it took this long to come up.

We got off the bus to eat some "linner" in Little Italy, since thanks to grossly oversleeping and our Broadway tickets for that evening, we had to budget our time and couldn't take advantage of the hop-on-hop-off feature of the bus tour. The streets are literally lined with restaurants, and we actually just let a waiter corral us to his reasonably-priced table. We found our way home with Andy's handy-dandy pop-up map (seriously, the coolest map book ever) and with Laura's crash-course in New York geography floating around in my head.

Outside the theater later that evening

We saw Promises, Promises, starring Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenowith, who is so talented. This show also co-starred Katie Finneran, who won a well-deserved Tony for her hilarious role in this show.

Times Square around 11 pm

We then ventured on to legendary Junior's Cheesecake, what all cheesecake aspires to be, where we ate a slice of raspberry swirl cheesecake that will forever leave us disappointed in all future cheesecake.

And then we went to Rockefeller Center.

We wanted to try to go to Top of the Rock to see the skyline, but we got there at 11:50 and it closed at midnight. We never did make it up there, so Top of the Rock is at the top of the list for next trip.


At "our" (Andy's) subway stop
(Many thanks to Laura for modeling scarf fashion that I could steal)

Just casually waiting for our train, completely oblivious to the photography
(P.S. Every time a train went by and my hair blew back, I felt like Felicity at the Bleeker Street stop)

Mmm, bagels. I had apple cream cheese - amazing. We ate on the subway. Because we could because no one had to drive. Because we're pretty much New Yorkers at this point. We are so much New Yorkers that we even got a bagel with lox, in the spirit of "When in Rome" - I think I read about lox in Babysitters Club. Stacey was from New York, after all. The lox was mostly gross after my sweet apple cream cheese, but if you like savory cream cheese maybe it could be good.

St. Paul's Chapel, est. 1776 - across the street from the World Trade Center, which is currently under construction.
I remember this iron gate where people hung memorials to their loved ones from photos of September 11th coverage. The headstones in the church cemetery were hundreds of years old.

At a memorial area that displayed a model of the future World Trade Center site. Very moving - there were videos playing with people sharing their memories from September 11th, 2001 and family members talking about their loved ones and heroes.

We took the (free!) Staten Island Ferry to see Lady Liberty

Then we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge

and ate iconic New York Grimaldi's Pizza

Then we walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge, but this time at night, and went to an improv comedy show with Andy (our host, who's the greatest). Suffice it to say that our tourist-cards were thoroughly punched at this point.


Meet JM and Sarah, dear friends from college. They live in this amazing apartment on the Upper West Side. As in, across the street from the Natural History Museum. As in, you can see Central Park from their rooftop deck. Yes, I just said rooftop deck. Where the view looks like this:

They are living our fantasy New York City life.
But we got to live it with them for a day. We joined them at their church, where I actually thought, I could see myself liking this church like I like my church, which is a tall order to fill. But the amazing worship music and challenging, authentic message were undeniably great. Then we walked through Central Park to have brunch at Isabella's, where we ate Filet Mignon Eggs Benedict. It doesn't get fancier than that people. The meal even came with an included mimosa, coffee, or orange juice. Fancy.
After we toured their apartment, the men put on their matching jaunty caps

and we went for a stroll through Central Park.

The bridge from Keeping the Faith where Edward Norton says,
"You know, I think whoever said it, it was really true. The true New Yorkers understand that people living anywhere else must be, in some sense, kidding."

J and I had gotten used to Andy's thoughtful, informative answers to all of our New York questions. JM was a different kind of tour guide (but equally lovable). "I think Strawberry Fields are over there somewhere..." "What's that?" "I don't know." "Where's the Alice and Wonderland statue?" "I don't know - is there one?" I was dying laughing by the end of it.
Later the men watched football while Sarah took me shopping (WOO!) and then we got to meet and get to know their friends for dinner at Calle Ocho (Latin American food with a sangria bar) and dessert at Shake Shack.

Okay, back to Felicity.

Breakfast at Dean & Deluca. This was probably my favorite day of the whole trip. And not just because I'm wearing my new favorite dress (purchased the day before). J and I plotted this whole day, figuring out what was close to what, found our way around (I LOVED that!) and did a bunch of things we had seen or heard of the first couple of days and wanted to spend more time doing, along with a couple of recommendations.

Drinking Dean & Deluca coffee in Bryant Park? It doesn't get more Felicity than that.

Bryant Park is where Ben was supposed to meet Felicity to see an outdoor movie, but he doesn't. Later, to win Felicity back, (at Dean & Deluca) he gives her a film reel of the movie they were supposed to see, calls it a time machine, and they watch it projected on the roof. It's very romantic. I cry every time he says "No, it's a time machine."

Behind Bryant Park is the New York City Public Library, where Big and Carrie don't get married. There were a lot of pop culture romantic mishaps in this area.
The library was under construction - boo.

But seriously, Bryant Park is beautiful and busy - I loved it. They have a children's play area with children's books just sitting outside on a cart, and all of the little tables - it's lovely. I think there is a city girl not too far from the surface in here, and Bryant Park made me want to pick up and move.

We found Washington Square Park!

We went into fancy stores in Greenwich and Soho - After Marc Jacobs and Vera Wang I stopped taking pictures of them, but trust me, there is no shortage of actual designer shops. I also went into some fun, more affordable vintage shops that I think were more in Greenwich than Soho.

And then we found this store - See that $4.99 Shoes Sale sign in the window? Yes Please!
J patiently waited while I shopped.

Yup, here's the Dean & Deluca Felicity's was modeled after. Again. I had to get a non-blurry photo.

Amazing street art we saw along the way.

Pastrami for lunch at Katz Deli, where they filmed "that scene" from When Harry Met Sally. See the little sign?

Cupcakes for dessert at Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery. The best cupcake I've ever eaten, hands down. Strawberry cheesecake. And I think they were $1.25.

Then we rowed boats in Central Park. This was probably my favorite thing we did the whole trip (Thanks for the suggestion Betsy!) - it was so refreshing. J and I played, challenging each other to rowing duels, and enjoyed the amazing views of the park and the city skyline.

The sun was setting as we got out of our boat and went on a mission to find that Alice statue (another thing I had read about in Babysitters Club). Along the way, J found Hans Christian Anderson.

And then we found Alice!

This was when I realized one thing I do not like about NYC - whatever you want to do, chances are there are a bunch of other people who want to do it too, so you don't really experience anything alone. For example, I would've loved a picture of J and I with Alice without a pink booty next to us.

After we checked Alice off of our list, we met Andy and he gave us a tour of Columbia, where he is about to complete grad school.

Andy showed us the old Columbia library, which is where they now award people the Pulitzer Prize. Seriously. New York is such a big deal.

And then he took us to a delicious Italian restaurant (where I waited for 5 minutes outside a locked door that turned out not to be the bathroom). It rained while we were inside eating - the restaurant is subset into the ground, you have to walk down steps from the surface level to get in, so we could see the rain hitting the pavement out the window, and it made it so cozy inside. Food was delicious and the company was better.

It was supposed to rain on our last day, but it ended up raining the night before, and it never did rain during the day - we had planned to go to the Metropolitan Museum this day, to stay dry and to mix in some actual culture with all the Felicity pop culture.

We saw Picasso and Dali and O'Keefe and Rockwell, to name just a few. Marble statues and ancient jewelry and ancient armor and Egyptian artifacts.

We saw the fountain that Claudia and Jamie bathed in and stole money from in one of my favorite children's books, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

That's the Thinker at the top.

We had spied this bamboo structure on the top of the Met when we were in Central Park

and we went up to the roof to see it up close.

I put my Barbizon Modeling School experience to good use

And so did J

The skyline on the roof of the Met

Then we raced through the Natural History Museum in thirty minutes - we just wanted to see the dinosaurs.

When J was a little boy, he wrote a book about dinosaurs. He made the cover out of cardboard. I've seen it.

Then we raced to Times Square to meet JM for a farewell cupcake

which we ate at Rockefeller Center. This was our lunch. I've figured out how people in NYC stay thin - you walk everywhere, and there's so much to do that you only have time to eat two meals a day.

Why were we at Rockefeller Center, you ask? Well because we had to get to the 30 Rock building for our taping of the Jimmy Fallon show! Andy's friend works for the show and was able to get us last minute tickets to the taping! I kept waiting for them to announce that Keri Russell was the guest, but as it turned out, Johnny Knoxville and Judah Friedlander were there instead.

See us in the audience? Look for my yellow sweater.

The boys got high-fives from Jimmy Fallon!

Outside the studio after the taping

After the taping, J and I scoured Times Square for a souvenir, and then went back and spent some quality time with Andy, our amazing host and dear friend. He's the greatest.

I am so thankful for how this trip just came together. I feel like the Lord planned out this opportunity for us way before we realized it and I just praise Him for making it happen for us. Our time off of work was already carved out when other plans fell through and we realized we could use the time to finally visit New York, in October, when we had always been told the weather was perfect (and it was - sunny and comfortably cool every day).

I'm so glad I went on this trip because I found out that New York is a normal place where normal people live - yes, there are famous people and there's fashion and culture and history, but actually being there, everything was just a little less glamorous than I expected, in a comforting way, a way that made it accessible to me. I wasn't totally separate from this vibrant city - in fact, (start spreading the news...) I was a part of it, for a few days.

What else is there to say? I heart NY.


  1. I had a goofy grin on my face as I was reading this - I'm sharing in your joy friend. It looks and sounds like the trip of a lifetime indeed! happy for you two!

  2. I seriously loved reading (and viewing) this, especially all the pop culture references. Stacy from the baby sitters club was so sophisticated wasn't she?
    Jon and I are determined to have a vacation this year over spring break without our child and I am very motivated to start saving and planning now so that we can really enjoy it!

  3. We had a magical day in NYC once without our kids; I wish it could have been longer! Your trip sounds fabulous. Did I tell you that during our day in NYC we randomly ran into JM & S walking their dog?!? All the millions of people there, and we walk right into them. It was crazy.

  4. Loved reading about your adventure! Great pictures!