This past Sunday, myself and friends hopped onto the Metro North from the Fairfield station and made our way to Manhattan. We had some solid plans which included spending a good portion of our afternoon at the Museum of Natural History. As we took off away from our bubble and into the dizzying metro beauty, I began to wonder if I could live the rest of my life without ever making a visit to New York City again. So between hard laughs and picture-taking, I zoned out into the moderate whizzing of the outside world. What do I know about NYC? What do I really like about NYC? I have been there so many times and I always leave with lasting memories, but I am also strikingly relieved when I arrive home to my rural neighborhood.
We arrived to Grand Central a bit past noon and took the subway to Central Park West. The temperature was in the mid 30s but we all managed to block it out. A bitter chill was not going to ruin our Christmas visit to the Center of the Universe. Once we got into the museum we realized we did not even need to purchase tickets, prices were negotiable as they are “donations.” We paid the full price anyway and started with the dinosaur exhibit, which is labeled as the largest in the world. Sunday is an ideal time to head over there; it was not too crowded and there were less baby strollers than I am assuming are present during the week! We hit every floor except the last, where the Hall of Gems was located, but we were running out of time. I was intrigued by almost everything, but mostly by the Native American artifacts. Between the animal traps, spearheads, official garb, pottery and art, I was sucked in. There were these two dolls that were uncovered from 1600’s Plains Indians. They were made and exchanged by newlyweds as a token of love, fidelity and honor. Simple and endearing.
There was so much to take in, one could easily spend two full days reading and walking around, catching special exhibits like the planetarium show (which I was fortunate to have seen a couple of years ago). But we got the most out of our time there and moved on to get some eats.
We grabbed a bite at McGee’s Pub and I had a nice Sam Winter and got a light salad. Yes, I recognize the irony. Everyone else got burgers and while they all were satisfied, I was not. How to fuck up a salad is beyond me. The tomatoes were so bitter, the avocado was not fresh and the bacon was under-cooked. Also for $13 dollars, it seemed to be more of a side salad. I understand that in NYC you get a little for a lot, but come on. Bill paid, we took off en route to Barney’s to check out Lady Gaga’s: Gaga’s Workshop. After walking for what seemed to be about 30 or so minutes, we found it on Madison Avenue.
The decor of Gaga’s Workshop was fantastic. We entered to a large piece of exaggerated art of the 2012 Madonna, fully equipped with her signature fingernails and McQueen heels. Everything was entirely too expensive. A box of eight lip-shaped chocolates was about $40 bucks. The cheapest items may have been about $20 bucks but I stopped looking after I got excited over a journal which was $50 smackaroos. Apparently 25 percent of the proceeds go towards Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, but that did not inspire me to break out the cash for spiked sunglasses or lollipops. After we left, we headed over to our to meet up with our friend at Tequilaville next to Grand Central for some margaritas. A plus to living so close to the city (Connecticut): you can have friends meet up with you at any given time or on a whim.
Soon after the 42nd Street social, we made our way via Subway to dinner at an Italian restaurant, Basso 56. On time for our reservation, we waited almost 30 minutes. I googled wait times for reservations, as I generally do when I am infrequently wrong, and the consensus is to wait no longer than 20 minutes before either A. leaving or B. throwing a bitch fit. The hostess was frazzled and unorganized. The restaurant was small and cramped. Reviews online were mixed. Prices were outrageous. I was hoping that the food would be tremendous after patiently waiting for our table but I ended up disappointed. The calamari was not fresh. The Caprese Salad (basil, tomato and cheese) was small and the mozzarella was chewy. The worst? The stuffed artichoke was sitting in a pukey-green broth that made it soggy and tasteless. I have had these all before; my family does this regularly. Call me bias, call me a bitch, but I make a pretty good “foods my family makes” critic. I ordered Fettucine with shrimp and scallops and it was dry and so overwhelmingly fishy I could barely eat it. I ordered a glass of white wine called Trebbiano d’Abruzzo which was yummy but I ended up with my normal red Merlot. I do not recommend this restaurant to anyone. For once, I wanted to enjoy a well-prepared meal by someone other than Chili’s and they let me down. They made up for the wait with Limoncello shots, which was the best part of that dining experience. Woohoo.
At this point I am pretty drunk as we began to make our way to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. We were all singing Frank Sinatra and skipping along, unbothered by stares and whispers. Good friend are what makes these trips experiences. We even got to witness a marriage proposal on the skaterink. There were so many people at the plaza it was hard to walk at times. There were lights as far as the eye could see. The Christmas spirit slowly crept into me. So, thanks New York, for that I appreciate you more.
As we began to walk yet again to our final destination, I realized that New York City is fitting for people who do not mind putting up with a lot but equally dealing with a lot. A lot of noise, traffic… choices. I enjoy not overspending, trees, parks where I can walk my dog, and houses. I like to drive cars without the fear of being rear-ended every 20 seconds and I am most importantly grateful for the peace and quiet that comes with living in Connecticut. NYC is too overwhelming, even for a gal like me. While metropolitan areas are often nonstop and congested, New York wins hands down. I do not need to be anywhere else in the world to know this. I guess I would just rather have some natural scenery and only a few options. I should plan a trip to Vermontto wash out the chaos that is still lingering in my brain.
I would prefer living somewhere with a nice balance of busy and calm, a place where it does not get down to 30 degrees ever and there is a beach nearby to take refuge after a hard day’s work. In order to find this ideal place, I need to keep moving. The more I venture out to the city, the more I realize I could possibly go my entire life without being there again. I will always hold a special place for it, for all of my first times. When my parents let me take the train on my own, Christmas with my first real boyfriend, my first sports games and concerts at Radio City and MSG- special moments. I know that for as long as I continue living so close to NYC, I will head down there for shows and nights out, but I am hoping that in the future I will be too far away to resort to it anymore.
I may not give Connecticut the credit it deserves sometimes, but I certainly do when I leave places like NYC. In a contradicting mix of similarities, pulling into the Fairfield train station was almost as beautiful as the outskirts of Central Park. Sure, to the right were restaurants, bars, banks, buildings in an urban setting. But to the left were dark, lamp-lit streets that would lead me home to my serene bedroom, where the moon on its dimmest night still shines through my bedroom window void by the glow of a thousand bulbs of Times Square.
I am trying to find reasoning behind this all. I feel each day that passes changes me more in a positive but seriously different way. There are things I use to do that I just feel no need to engage in anymore, and traveling to Manhattan is one of them. I am turning into a simple girl and it is taking over me; whether to embrace it, I just do not know. But I am not sure I can stop it either.