SVV and I returned from a bit of an impromptu trip to New York at midnight last night. It’s weird because while I spent a couple years in the Big Apple, I feel like it’s slipping away from me. Sure, I navigate the city on auto-pilot, knowing exactly how to get from point A to point B on foot, but the little things—the subway routes, the names of my favorite bars—are starting to escape me entirely. And sometimes I don’t even feel like I ever lived there at all—like I was some extra in Inception and dreamed the whole thing.
I love Manhattan as a vacation destination; I’m not sure how anyone couldn’t. But the city and I were less compatible in terms of living. I like a lot of space; Manhattan afforded me a 10-square-meter room in a three-bedroom, 500-square-foot apartment (sans a floor, only plywood) with two others for a combined rent of $3600. I can’t handle noise; sirens and empty trucks, their empty beds clanging up and down on the pot hole outside my 10th Avenue bedroom, kept me up until all hours of the night. By the time I moved to California, I was over it. That’s why I like coming back so much: Because at the end of the day, I can enjoy being there, soaking up everything the city has to offer, and revel in the fact that I’ll be leaving again soon.
I spent five nights back with my other significant other, Lemon (she of High Priestess fame), and SVV joined us for a quick 48 hours at the end of the visit. While I scheduled a couple meetings on Thursday and Friday, this trip was solely meant to hang out with the A-Team: Lemon and her Boy, Anthony and Ryan (our wedding ushers), and Katy, former roommate and copy editor extraordinaire. Of course, this also meant cramming in as many decadent meals as we could.
Scott, Anthony and Ryan—they planned their outfits, of course.
Katy and me.
We had dinner at gastropub Brickyard in Hell’s Kitchen one night, dinner at Apizz in the Lower East Side another. We returned to my favorite brunch haunt, Stanton Social, for breakfast-y tapas. I didn’t get to have a burger and the mac and cheese at my previous local establishment, P.J. Clarke’s, nor did I have my favorite pizza from Patsy’s—but there’s always next time.
Of course, I spent an afternoon shopping—wandering from Union Square through Washington Square Park and down into SoHo. The weather was just so beautiful that after a summer of Arctic temps in San Francisco, I made the most of being outdoors in a sundress as best I could.
I didn’t buy anything—I know—but it was just nice having a few hours to myself, roaming solo through some of my favorite neighborhoods aimlessly.
I also had the pleasure of meeting a whole lot of awesome blogger chicks for dinner at Kuma Inn on Thursday night—where we almost got kicked out for being “too loud,” aka deigning to speak above the volume of the club-like music that drowned out our conversations—as well as various others (such as the delightful Annemarie, who has long been my Twitter travel soulmate, and former Lucky co-worker Lacey) for coffee and drink dates.
Lemon had a cocktail/housewarming/”Kristin and SVV are back in town!” party on Saturday, for which we baked four kinds of cookies and spent all day in the kitchen preparing. That girl does not take her KitchenAid mixer, nor her hostessing duties, lightly.
On Sunday, SVV and I met some other travel industry pals for brunch at the Tipsy Parson in Chelsea, where we were seated at a communal-style table right next to Project Runway contestant/designer Daniel Vosovic.
Then we spent an afternoon exploring an area where I spent very little time when I actually lived there (and just a couple dozen blocks north on the same side of town, at that). We went into Chelsea Market, overwhelmed by the stench of freshly-caught fish mingling with the aromas of a half dozen bakeries taunting us to come inside. (We didn’t. We still had sugar hangovers from the party the night before.)
We wandered down the High Line for a spell. For months, I’ve seen Tweets and blog posts mentioning the High Line, and to be honest, I had no idea what it was until we arrived. Then, I understood it truly is one of those things you have to see in order to conceptualize.
In a nutshell, the city took an elevated train track along the West side and turned it into a pedestrian parkway high above 10th Avenue.
The path goes around and through buildings and offers a whole new perspective of the city. There are even wooden chaises—that move back and forth on a rail, I might add—upon which to lounge. There’s also the iconic Standard Hotel, which towers above the trail and gives the occasional walker an unwanted (sometimes, wanted) peep show.
It’s also a bit surreal to be tickled by grass and foliage as you mosey through the professed concrete jungle (where dreams are made of). We walked the length of it and then headed uptown to our friends Suzanne’s and Evan’s Upper West Side abode for our last evening in the city before dinner with Lemon and the Boy.
All in all, it was a trip where I felt like I was constantly dashing from one meal to the next, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. (It’s why I wear dresses; they’re much more forgiving than fat pants.) Maybe I didn’t appreciate the city nearly as much as I should have when I lived in the 10019 zip code. I can count on one finger the number of times I went to a museum. I stepped foot in the Upper West Side all of twice. I never made it up to Columbia or into the Bronx or even over to Hoboken. But that’s what happens when you live in a place, right? You always think your time is unlimited, until one day it’s time to move on and you realize there are so many things you never got around to doing because of that very reason—you never thought of your days as numbered until it was too late. But that’s what vacations are for, I suppose.
We left the city, our pockets a little bit lighter and my heart significantly heavier. I’ve been back to visit four times since I moved almost three years ago, and each time it gets a little harder. I’m no longer a resident of this vibrant city, and it’s getting to the point where it’s harder and harder to say “I once lived here.” The city is an ever-evolving tapestry of sights, sounds, smells and inhabitants. People check in and out just as easily as they would a hotel, making it more unrecognizable each time I return. This saddens me to some extent, but for now, I’ll hold onto the sliver of a thread that keeps me connected to NYC and continue to return until my last friend has left the 212 and it becomes solely a place that I once knew very well, way back when.