Wow. Life. It’s really distracting! Anyway, after way too long, here is the recap of our fabulous time in NYC! We were there for 5 days, and then a week later, we lived it up for another 4 days. Here is what we accomplished during that first stay in NYC.
Day 1: Wednesday, July 31
We arrived in the late afternoon at our first destination: the Upper West Side, Riverside Drive and 113th to be exact. This is where we call home when we visit my dad and step-mom, BaBa and NuNu to the kids. The kids reunion with their grandparents was sweet to watch. We spent an hour or so in Riverside Park before calling it a day.
Day 2: Thursday, August 1
A gray, rainy morning finds us at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Here’s another favorite that the kids recognized from Olivia, two practice paintings by Edgar Degas, of what would become “Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage.” In my picture collage, Thora is demonstrating (in the two squares at the bottom) differences she spots in the two.
Day 3: Friday, August 2
We started the day with a train ride over to Brooklyn, a quick walk through Brooklyn Heights, and then over to Jane’s Carousel, the old-fashioned 1920’s era carousel which was saved from being dismantled and sold off piecemeal, by Jane and David Walentas who bought it and painstakingly restored it. And she’s a beauty, stunning in detail. And the view while you’re on it is pretty spectacular, too.
We had a lot of calories to burn off and the perfect way to do it: walking back into Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge (continuing the kids’ tutelage in World Class Architecture).
We made it across, only to get swept up into a street performance act on the other side of the bridge. Sean, who had Auric on his shoulders, was pulled into the act by some guys doing some amazing acrobatics. Their final feat was to jump and do a flip in the air, over four people, who were bent over, touching their toes. Exciting!
After that, the day was spent walking our tired legs and achy feet around Little Italy, Chinatown, and then gratefully catching a train back uptown.
Day 4: Saturday, August 3
This was our midtown day. It was a bit rainy, but warm. So we figured we’d suit the kids up in their togs and hit our favorite playground, Hecksher Playground on the south end of Central Park.
The kids played in the sprinklers and splashed around the fortress-like structure, one arm of which connects to the massive boulders that overlook the softball diamonds. Despite the on and off drizzle, there were games going on, and so the kids and I “climbed the mountain” and took in an inning of competitive, adult league softball.
After lunch in the park, consisting of New York hotdogs, we changed the kids and started walking towards Times Square. We had matinee tickets for Annie, the first of two Broadway musicals that Thora and I would see on this trip back to the states.
The kids liked the energy of the play and the child actors were impressive (and perhaps inspirational for our budding actress?). After the show, BaBa and NuNu met us and had an afternoon and evening with the kids while Sean and I went out on our own, first to a quick dinner in midtown…
…followed by a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy theater where we were surprised to see that the very funny Mike Birbiglia had decided to drop in and do some improv with the regular players. We had a great night, just the two of us, wandering the streets of Chelsea and the Village before grabbing a frozen yogurt and hopping on the train.
Day 5: Sunday, August 4th
This was our last full day in NYC of our first pass though. And we took in a new experience: walking the High Line, with about 5,000 other people. The Highline is what happens when an old, out-of-use elevated railroad line is turned into a walking path, lined with native plants and public art, and dotted with the occasional gelato cart or string of artisans selling their wares. It was fun to be up above the street, seeing parts of the city that we’d never seen before, in an environment that felt strange and yet compelling in its contrast between metropolis and country road.
If you start at 30th Street and head South, near the end, between 17th and 16th, there is a small theatre-style seating area where the Highline passes over 10th Ave. The kids got right up to the plexiglass window and just watched and watched the traffic flow underneath us.
We’re lucky to say that we lived in NYC for 4 years, and made annual summer visits each of the 5 years that we lived in Boston. Thora was born in NYC and has come to know parts of NYC now. Places in Riverside Park are as familiar to her as places we’ve lived. And each year, she remembers more and more. This year, there were several things that stuck out in Thora’s memory from our last time in NYC. And that was a single visit to a “make-it-yourself” yogurt chain called Handles. (You pull the handles to dispense your own frozen yogurt or ice cream, and then scoop all the toppings you want; you pay by the ounce.) Thora repeatedly reminded us of this place and on her list of NYC priorities, it was up near the top. So we were glad that there was a Handles near the end of the Highline Park. Here we are, after we’d “handled it.” (Sorry.)
Day 6: Monday, August 5
And then, just like that, the second leg of our trip had come to an end. After early runs for Sean and I, Sean traveled down to 52nd Street, picked up our rental car, and we packed it up for a week in the place we most recently called home: Cambridge, MA. The road took us under the viaduct in Harlem, onto the Henry Hudson Parkway…
… and ultimately towards The Pike. It’s always bittersweet to leave NYC. We live life here in a different way than anywhere else. And now that we live so very, very far away, it was painful in a way it’s never been. Granted, I knew we were coming back in less than a week. But driving away, out of the Upper West Side, past the Fairway, where we did most of our grocery shopping all those years ago (it involved a cab ride home), up past Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where Sean spent 80 hours a week for 4 years, where Thora was born, past Washington Heights, the neighborhood we called home for our final, and hardest year, it was painful to relive the leaving that we’ve done so many times. However, now that our new physical distance from NYC is a physical knowledge for us, in that we know exactly how long it takes us now to get here, mixed with the sadness, I was simultaneously feeling how blessed we are that we’ve been able to take in as much of the world as we have. There’s more places to see and know, but good ol’ NYC, we’ll always come back to you.
Stay Tuned to Part 3: A Week in “Our Fair City,” Cambridge, MA