Did you know that this is my 50th post? 50! I feel happy about that, and I feel happy to be writing about this milestone in New York. Wahooo!
The last time I was in New York was August 2009. Espying cheap flights at the travel agent on my lunch break at a particularly awful job in South Melbourne, I thought “Hmmm… I’m about to turn 30… I’m gonna celebrate my birthday with a solo trip to the Big Apple?!” Rich was away at the time, and I called him and asked “How would you feel about us not spending our birthdays together this year?” and he said “Fine” given that he’s not the most birthday-y guy around, and so I strolled back into the travel agent and booked my ticket.
I started off that adventure in Canada (which I’ve told you a little bit about in previous posts – namely my induction into the wonderful world of Piebird) and ended it with a week in New York. I’d been to NYC once before that, 2 years prior, when I stayed with my lovely friend Sandra in a fancy hotel on the LES while she was in town for a business trip. Our standout moment was a late-night trip to Magnolia Bakery for Red Velvet cupcakes, which we took back to our hotel and ate (in bed) while drinking the richest hot chocolate in the world. They were so rich, neither of us could finish the cupcake OR the hot chocolate. Which is saying something, if you know me.
But back to the birthday trip. I spent a few nights in Williamsburg, in a room with no fan and no window (which, in the middle of summer, are two things you really really want in a room), but the heat soon drove me to the glitz, and air conditioning, of Manhattan.
After a few birthday beers with an old friend at a bar in the East Village (and a huge slice of ‘birthday pizza’ for dinner) we made our way to a house party on the other side of town. When I heard the words ‘house’, ‘party’ and ‘Manhattan’ I immediately thought ‘penthouse’, ‘debauchery’, ‘peeps swinging from the chandeliers’ and ‘Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl’. This party was not any of these things. When we walked in, there was a small group of people standing around drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and eating chips. Terrible music, that I have since blocked from my mind, surged through tinny speakers set up on either side of the room. There was no vibe. There were no chandeliers from which to swing.
This was not how I wanted to spend my 30th birthday. I wanted to walk through the city that never sleeps, back to my cosy room off Broadway, call Rich and talk about our days, and go to sleep.
I said “Adios Amigos” to my pal and his friends, took a handful of corn chips, and left the party into the hot August night. The party was a few blocks from my hotel, and I thought “What better way to spend this momentous evening than walking through Times Square, eating corn chips?”.
There was a spring in my step as I strolled confidently down a dark street towards Broadway. A man on a stoop wolf-whistled. I confess to blushing, just a little. A truck drove past and the man in the drivers leant out the window, jeering “Mmm hmm, break me offa piece o that”, while I looked around, a feigned “Who? Me?” look on my face, as I broke off my own piece of corn chip and crunched it in my teeth.
Out of the dark street, I turned onto Broadway and into the lights and hubbub of Times Square. My handful of chips were finished, and my birthday was nearly over. Back to my hotel and into the enormous bed with the too-big pillows and the too-cold air-conditioning (which tonight, was SUCH a blessing), onto the phone and there was Rich, asking about my day, wishing me a happy birthday, and a long distance good-night.
P.S. On another note, today we went to the zoo in Central Park and I fed alpacas!! It was amazing… We also saw two of the fattest pigs I have EVER seen, lots of terrifying snakes, some show-offy penguins, and a loudmouth seal.