I am back home, wearing slippers, admonishing the children to be quiet. The noisy streets of New York are a fading memory. If I didn’t have photographic proof, I might doubt that I had ever left my house.
I flew on the red-eye last Sunday night, meaning I left at midnight and arrived in New York at 8 a.m. In my time zone, that was only 5 a.m. Did I mention already here that I woke up from a sporadic and unrestful sleep dotted with downy feathers from my pillow? It’s hard to look unflappable when you resemble a chicken.
I arrived at my hotel by 9:30 a.m. (a driver was waiting at the baggage claim for me, holding my name on a sign just as if I were Somebody Important). When I checked in at the front desk, the woman said, “How are you paying for this?” and I said, “Uh, my company is paying.”
She demanded a Letter of Authorization. I telephoned my contact person, who showed up in person to take care of things. However, that meant that I met her for the first time, desperate to make a good impression, with bleary eyes. She said to call her when I was ready, so I went to my room, washed up, reapplied make-up, changed clothes. We were walking to the subway within fifteen minutes.
The sky was clear and sunny, the sidewalks in Tribeca bustling with people in a hurry. We walked several blocks to the subway, then rode from the Brooklyn Bridge station to 28th Street in the 6 Train. By 10:30 a.m., I was at my temporary desk, working. I was introduced to everyone in the office, at least twenty people. We worked until 3 p.m., when returned on the subway. Within an hour, my friend from Kansas City arrived at the hotel.
We took the subway back Uptown to board a Grayline bus Night Tour. We sat on the upper deck in the frigid air to we could see the sites clearly. After the tour, we asked where to catch another bus back downtown and the tour director told us the buses didn’t run that late. We asked to be pointed toward the right subway and he told us he’d take us to the C-train. We stayed on the bus and then disembarked with him. He was traveling home, so he escorted us to the train and rode halfway to our stop, giving us advice the whole time about where to eat, what to see and how to find the best cannoli. (Which, alas, we did not have time to do.)
We had a late dinner at a little place down the street from the hotel.
I hardly slept that night. First nights in strange places are always tough for me. I woke up exhausted and sore. And then, back to work, commuting again by subway. (So easy, so convenient, so clean and so cheap!)
I worked from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. My friend met me at my office and we took the Subway to 42nd Street (Grand Central Station!) and then a shuttle over to Times Square. We wandered some, then found a restaurant. At 8 p.m., we saw a Broadway show (“Spamalot”) which was so funny that my cheeks hurt from laughter.
After the show, we headed down the sidewalk, ran into a blockade and realized Someone Famous was due to come out of the neighboring theater. After a short wait, we saw Terrence Howard come out and sign programs for fans. (He was starring in “A Raisin in the Sun.”)
We made our way back to the Subway and then to our hotel. We arrived home at 11 p.m. I slept that night, though not until 1 a.m. (I was reading The Other Boleyn Girl in anticipation of seeing the movie.)
Work on Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. That morning, another co-worker had arrived. We attempted the subway again, but it was not running (“signal failure” they said) so we took a cab which was much slower and more expensive than the subway. After work, nine of us from the office went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. The walk to dinner down 10 blocks or so was brisk but invigorating and the dinner itself was full of conversation and laughter. And glorious guacamole.
My friend spent the whole day sight-seeing at Ellis Island, Liberty Island and riding the (free!) Staten Island Ferry. She also visited a museum. That night, when I finally arrived home at 9 p.m., we went down the street so she could have a late dinner (and I had dessert).
Then, Thursday, she left for home, I worked a short day in the office. Between the end of my shift and the time my car was due to pick me up, I took the subway uptown, this time all the way to 51st Street. I walked along tall buildings and very fancy hotels to 42nd Street, where I entered Grand Central Station (and how grand it was!). I was cold from the chilly air, but the sun was bright. That area seemed to be the domain of business people and very few tourists (unlike Times Square). I took the Subway to 33rd Street, then walked down Park Avenue to my office building, stopping to pick up lunch.
Then my car arrived and drove me to the airport (an hour’s drive). My plane (JetBlue, how I adore you) left at 7:25 p.m. and arrived in Seattle at 11 p.m. I picked up my van and drove an hour home and by 12:30 a.m., I was snuggled in my own bed.
I can hardly believe I spent four days in New York City. I was enthralled by the energy, by the kindness of the people and by the beauty of the city. It was a far different city than when I visited twentysomething years ago. Then again, I am a far different person now.
I would really love to travel again to New York City, this time for recreation only. My time was so limited that I didn’t even glimpse Central Park, nor did I set foot inside a museum. Next time. I hope it doesn’t take me twenty more years to return.