I’ve stopped announcing my visits to New York City in advance. The problem with having lived somewhere—plus, working primarily for New York-based companies—is that it’s impossible to see everyone when you’re in town, particularly when your visits are limited to 72 hours over a holiday weekend. I’d much rather get to spend quality time with small groups of friends than just inviting everyone I know to one big, chaotic happy hour, so these days I keep my visits on the DL until I’ve arrived.
The sole purpose of my visit was to see my best friend (and wedding officiant) Lemon. We lived together in college and then briefly in New York and typically see each other a couple of times a year, whether in California, Austin, New Orleans or beyond. So the fact that it had been 19 months since our last reunion was just ludicrous. I needed to change that.
I flew into La Guardia on Thursday—how much do I love just having an hour-and-40-minutes direct flight from Nashville, versus a six-hour cross-country one that hops three time zones?—and took a cab straight to Brooklyn for midday martinis in Park Slope with Aly. Then I hopped the subway, rolling suitcase in tow, and headed to Midtown for happy hour at the Smith with Lemon and our pals Kendyl, Laney, Meg and Julia. Happy hour turned into six-hours-later-and-we-were-finally-heading-to-Lemon’s-Upper-West-Side-pad. It was a good night, and my GOD the Smith’s mac and cheese. The bar/restaurant may have been a little bit too scene-y for my usual taste, but the food and cocktails trumped any douchery of the bar patrons.
As luck would have it, nearly my entire Semester at Sea office happened to be in New York for the weekend, as well, so there was more than one reunion that took place. Paula had hopped the bus over from Boston, so we had a leisurely Good Friday brunch at Good Enough to Eat (which, yes, it was), then moseyed on down to Midtown where I met Lemon and former roomie Katy for a little tax-free shopping. What I love about New York is that you don’t even realize how much you’re walking until—BAM!—you’ve just traveled 61 blocks and six avenues by foot. It combats all the eating to be had the rest of the time you’re there.
That night, Lemon and I met her Boy, SASers Trina and Josh, Katy, and my wedding ushers Ryan and Anthony at the very hip Beauty & Essex in the Lower East Side where they serve you champagne in the ladies’ room (something we failed to enjoy because none of us thought to take our IDs to the bathroom…silly us). You enter the massive restaurant through a pawn shop, and the food was fantastic (the restaurant was opened a year and a half ago by the same people who do Stanton Social, which is my all-time favorite NYC brunch). One thing I didn’t take into account was how crazy the city can be with tourists during Easter weekend, so when we couldn’t find a bar with actual seats anywhere nearby, we wound up at the Hotel on Rivington instead (not recommended for those on a budget given the $16-for-a-beer price tags).
(Disclosure: I turn into a vampire at night, as evidenced by my glaring red eyes in all these photos that Lightroom wouldn’t recognize. You have been warned should ever we meet in a dark alley after the sun has set. During the day, I keep the glow to a minimum with heavily-tinted sunglasses.)
The following morning, Lemon, her Boy and I had brunch at Recipe on a whim in an attempt to find both a place with a good health grade (harder than you’d think) and one without a line (surprisingly not that hard for a Saturday morning at 11am on a holiday weekend).
Then it was time to venture all the way up to 218th Street to see my Semester at Sea work study student Kacie’s lacrosse game. Confession: In the time I lived in NYC, I never went above 100th Street, let alone all the way up into the heart of Harlem! I wasn’t even sure how you got there, but the subway was quick and easy from the UWS.
It was not just my first trip that far north on the island, but also my first lacrosse game! In the South, we opt for less preppy sports like football and basketball. I sort of loved my first lacrosse experience, especially when the girls would whack their opponents in the face with the sticks (only kidding…not really). It was a fun sport to watch live, though.
Evan, another of my favorite SAS students who goes to NYU, also came up and joined Paula, Trina and me for the afternoon. After Kacie scored almost all the goals for Columbia and made the rest of the assists, we got to see her and her parents up in the press box for a post-game tailgate.
That night, Lemon, her Boy and I decided to take it easy. We had a delicious (and pretty cheap by New York standards) Italian dinner at Cotta in their neighborhood, then retreated to their 19th-floor apartment for an evening in of watching The Muppets (so good!).
Sunday was Easter, so Lemon and I met Josh and his partner Kurt down in their new home, the West Village, for brunch at one of my old haunts, Cornelia Street Cafe. It was a beautiful day, if not still a tad bit chilly, so we moseyed on through Washington Square Park, through Greenwich Village and down into SoHo for a bit of shopping.
And then, it was time to go home! And I’d be lying if I said were it not for Ella and SVV waiting for me back in Tennessee, I’d have been a tiny bit sad I’m no longer a New Yorker. At least, I’m still able to play the part on occasion.