New York ~ Day Seven
2:00AM. New York. You have stolen my heart. This romance of ours…hot. I don’t know where you came from, or how I came to you, but damn, boy. I didn’t see this coming in a million years.
This morning, I made it my mission to get to the yet-another-legendary-deli Katz’s Delicatessen, within walking distance to where I am staying. And ironically (or not), just steps from Russ & Daughters Deli. The goal: Katz’s pastrami on rye sandwich. I didn’t care that it was for breakfast. It was the right thing to do.
I walked in and was immediately met by a greeter with a yellow ticket, and a severely obese security guard, whom I would later learn was named Ed. I admitted upfront I was a Katz virgin and thus would need some gentle guidance on the rules of this place, again wishing not to trample on any native New Yorker pride. First, another of the dozens of compliments I’ve been getting on my rainbow bangs, this time by Ed. “LOVE the hair. LOVE IT. If that’s how they do things in Seattle, take me with you, babe.” After I handed him my personal training/yoga business card, he seemed smitten. Oh, Big Ed, with a big heart. He watched over me the whole time I was meandering like a lost kitten — me, mewing at him for help when I couldn’t find the flatware, the napkins, the soda, where to put dishes and where to pay. Him, saying from a distance, “I gotchyou, babe. I gotchyou.”
The pastrami sandwich (of which I only ordered half and was still greeted with a mound of unbelievable tender and flavorful goodness), was like no other pastrami I’ve ever had. I can’t even write about it and do it justice. Just look at my photo of it and see what happens to your salivary glands. On the side, a bowl of the biggest Matzo Ball soup I’ve ever eaten, and damn fine, at that. They put some cukes and some pickles on the side, and I tossed on a Dr. Brown Root Beer just to make it all official. I hear there are other delis here with fabulous pastrami, but this, my friends, is where I needed to start…where it all started.
From there, I made my way down to the TKTS ticket booth and snagged a half price day-of ticket to Kinky Boots. Oh yes. It was going to happen. Something to look forward to.
But first, on a more serious note, I had to finally get into the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
And as I had experienced the prior day while standing at the pools where the towers once stood, it was a gradual build of emotion. However, when I stood at the mammoth blue wall representing the color of that beautiful sky that day — that’s where I lost it, from then on a blubbering mess — and I consider myself, while entirely and sometimes overly empathic, a pretty tough chick capable of dealing with the darkest of shit.
Behind that wall still lie many remains of those who lost their lives that day, ordinary humans, just like you and me, going about their day until thrust into history having to face making life and death decisions, with heroism and grace in the worst moment of our country’s modern history. Never forget. How can you when it seems like yesterday? Especially there in the midst of the harsh reality of what happened that day.
The most detailed and graphic exhibits did not allow photography, and needless to say brought even more emotion. This is something the everyone must visit in their lifetimes, lest we become complacent, not to mention out of respect for those who lost their lives, not just the office workers, but the restaurant workers, the bike messengers in the buildings that day, the medics, the firefighters, the police and random civilians assisting who all paid the ultimate sacrifice. Ask yourself, what would you have done that day if you were there? These people ran in to their deaths. A price many would not pay.
Feeling swollen-eyed upon leaving that experience, I had to head back to one more spot.
Yesterday, I had hidden my pepper spray under a platform inside the open rotunda of the building where we bought our Statue of Liberty tickets. Had security found it in my bag, they would have confiscated and tossed it. At the suggestion of the ticket agent, I stashed it. Maybe should have been outside the building, but I had full intention of just swinging through and retrieving it after our excursion.
It was all very James Bondesque. I felt smart. Well, I was until I tried to get it after the boat ride back. A park ranger was stationed at the main entrance. When I tried to explain I had left something, he got very rude with me and wouldn’t let me in and didn’t want to believe that one of his own staff had told me to stash something. A minor verbal altercation ensued, I stood my ground, as I wasn’t going to be called a liar. But, I left with full intention to get my property back the next day since he wouldn’t be there, and doubtful he could find it if he tried.
And so I did. I put my hair up, lest someone recognize my rainbow-ness, put my sunhat and sunglasses on, and entered. At first, foiled again. There were two security personnel sitting on the platform, both gazing at their cell phones, clearly not doing their job, but more importantly to me, one was directly above where I needed to grab my pepper spray. Ugh. I’d have to wait for a bit.
So I feigned a trip to the women’s room, spent five minutes twiddling my thumbs, and then exited. Good – only one now – and he was still not doing his job, facing away toward a wall on his phone. I sat down over my spot, set my purse down, feigned something falling out, and reached under and grabbed it. But, in order not to look too suspicious, I sat for a bit more, looking at my phone, drinking water, pretending to be waiting for someone before I finally got up and left. Mission accomplished. I used to want to be a detective, police officer, FBI, CIA. I do think I’d make a good one…just would be preferable if I weren’t having to solve my own problems.
From there, up to the American Museum of Natural History, the last ticket in my CityPass booklet, with just under two hours to get it in before closing. It appears I like to make things exciting. I saw the dinosaur exhibit, and then went on a frantic search for the Maori head, the Dum-Dum head from the movie A Night at the Museum. Some detours involved, taking me thirty minutes to find it, it’s a HUGE place, but I got there. Phew. I am nothing if not proficient at excelling under pressure.
I took what was left of my museum cafe sandwich and some chocolate poundcake to Central Park for a sunset solo picnic by what they call The Lake toward the south end of the park. I opted for this after deciding I didn’t have enough time to get Chelsea Park/Highline in before Kinky Boots, and I’m so glad I took the time. I can now scratch off picnic in Central Park from my list. Albeit, a lonely picnic, but that’s another thing I excel at, being alone, traveling alone, experiencing things alone. Not to say, I wouldn’t mind some company.
Off to Kinky Boots from there where I had center stage, half-price seats to a show that kicked serious ass. Amazing talents, fun story, great time. And before getting back to my hotel, a diversion through the sparkly night of Times Square, the throngs of people, a place I don’t really understand the purpose of, but allthewhile a necessary moment, deciding to have a late night post-show hot dog in NY, in Times Square. Had to happen. It was damn good, too…with bacon, relish, honey sriracha onions. Mmhm.
Found my way home again, having become more familiar with the subway, my routes, my stops…
It feels like home in a way I can’t describe. Who knows, perhaps there will be a day when it is…until then I have one more full day, and a half day to squeeze the most juice out of the Big Apple as I can.