New York ~ Day Three, 4.11.16
12AM exactly. The bewitching hour. Or just the overstuffed, swollen, blistered feet, exhausted hour. Less exciting, but yet the product of excitement — and so very welcome, indeed.
I nearly crashed hard around 10PM, the heat having been somehow mysteriously, surreptitiously turned back to tropical status (I’d like to know who actually likes it this high…), lulling, numbing me with its warmth, swelling all of my already-swollen tissues from the excessive walking and standing these last few days. I started nodding off, semi-conscious of those other guests creaking their way around this historically charming place, laptop on lap, fingers poised on keys, trying desperately to decide whether to succumb or not.
After a quick poem posted to my poetry blog about this cabin bed, about the urge to experience that luring slice of pizza down the street at Prince Street Pizza…regardless of the fact that I wasn’t actually hungry, but just wanted to squeeze one more little micro-experience into the day while I had the chance — I made the choice to rally. I fumbled to put pants back on, slipped my ballooned feet (one toe may just be starting to develop a bruised nail from all the walking) into my sandals, skimmed by the front desk and begged for them to turn the heat down again, assured it would be when I get back (and nope, it wasn’t), and found my way to that delectable square of pizza with my name on it.
No regrets. Limped my way back to the hotel, climbed the painful staircases to the rooftop terrace, turn my head to see one of the most amazing views of my time here. There, closer than my pictures can do it justice, the looming One World Trade Center, glowing grandly…and to its distant, yet perfectly framed right, a smiling crescent moon ever-so-slightly fuzzy due to a light foggy layer, which only added to the ethereal moment. The walls of the terrace illuminated by globe lighting, the traffic below busy, even at this hour, and always…always honking. I am still charmed by this. Perfect way to end another magical day.
It began with a late breakfast/lunch at Russ & Daughters Delicatessen, an institution here in NY. The original location is tightly packed with people, and on either side cases full of everything you want to eat. Lox of all kinds and origins, rugelach, halvah, caviar, soups, cream cheeses, bagels, bialys, all kinds of food love. Me, being the tourist, waiting patiently, assessing with my keen eye just what exactly was the procedure here lest I upset a local New Yorker.
There was one such, dare I say, more “typical” New Yorker woman with an air of self-righteousness who wasn’t fond of the tour group growing outside the window. Hey, I get it, I’m from Seattle, we get that a lot, too. Honestly, I enjoy seeing people get excited about my city. But, hearing this woman bemoan the group and tourists in general, well, I mean, come on…any city worth living in is going to be a city worth visiting. I just hope she remembers how she treated and talked about them when she’s not in her home town.
Aside from that, the highlight was watching her offer a number for service to the older man who walked in behind her, only to have him gently set his aged hand on her hoity-toity shoulder and whisper “That’s okay, no…” as he directed her gazed with his other aged hand to the framed black and white picture on the wall of the deli of a younger him…in his white apron, back in the day. This…was the Russ of Russ & Daughters, shoulder to shoulder with me in that tightly packed deli, his deli, the one of legend, one of Anthony Bourdains’ “must eat” places in NY. Check off another unexpected moment of magic.
I took my toasted everything bagel with scallion cream cheese, smoked salmon, onion, tomato, and chives, to the nearest NY park bench…the kind you see in all the movies, stories everywhere. And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without friends and strangers picking up a basketball for some neighborhood bonding over ball games. I also imbibed in a fresh-squeezed orange juice, and the world’s most goddamn delicious latke I’ve ever had in my life. Don’t pinch me, I don’t want to wake up yet.
To the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Central Park, having walked my rainbow self through Park, Madison, and 5th Avenues. I noticed a highly sculpted woman pass me and go into a building. The sign on that building: Manhattan Facial Plastic. Yup. I am finally in New York. I’ve seen all strata of social class.
Took my time, nearly four hours at The Met, engaging my political science and history sides most thoroughly, hitting as much as I could, walking into random rooms only to discover myself surrounded by Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Rodin, and more. I can’t even process it. Truly stunned. Took many pictures so I can go back and study them further. Overwhelming. Seattle Art Museum is nothing to scoff at, but when it gets some Monet on loan, it’s maybe a few. Here, ALL the walls are Monet. The Egyptian room was stunning, Italian Renaissance, Medieval Armor, I mean, come on. I could spend all week here and here alone. I had intended to make it to the Guggenheim today, but decided it would have to wait, The Met was more important.
Followed up with my first walk through Central Park on a warm, partly sunny day, with a few drippy moments in the park. Passed by a few models (they can’t hide, despite how skinny they are), on my way to Shake Shack for the first time, secretly gloating that I could eat that and enjoy it while they couldn’t. Is that mean? Maybe.
Tomorrow…Guggenheim in morning, maybe Chelsea Market, and then as the fates and my traumatized credit card would have it…The Metropolitan Opera for Madama Butterfly by Puccini! Cheapest ticket: $150. Gasp. But, oh so worth it, I have no doubt. May splurge on a steak dinner somewhere nice beforehand. A solo date for a woman in a city full of attractive people, couples, and singles. I relish my time here, alone or other.
It is all meant to be just as it is, whatever happens or doesn’t this time around.
I was born for this.
~ Emily Clapper, journal entry 4.11.16