30 June 2010

What a Day, What a Place

The twins are starting to realize why I have been raving about New York City for the last few years. Their jaws drop as they look up and down the streets and see row after row of countless buildings stretching in every direction, all of which are taller than the ones they see downtown back home. The hum, the vibrancy, the constant activity, the sheer staggering size of this place is nothing they've ever imagined. They both agree it's the most amazing city they've ever seen. Fortunately the heat's starting to abate a bit too. Daytime high should only be 80 today, instead of the mid-90's we saw on Monday.

Yesterday at Boy Twin's insistence, our first stop was the Empire State Building. For a kid as acrophobic as he is, I was surprised he wanted to go all the way to the top. Though I've been to the city numerous times, I never managed to make up there till yesterday. What a view. What a place.

Next we headed to SoHo, I wanted them to see what NYC looked like during the Civil War. Cobblestone streets, old brownstones, that sort of thing. It's quite gentrified now and is a unique and eye-poppingly expensive part of town. But beautiful to look at and wander round.

Then over to Chelsea Market on our way to Ground Zero. But thanks to their jet lag, we'd gotten kind of a late start, and by the time we got to Chelsea it was already pushing 4 pm. We were due to meet the distinguished author of the Moving Horizon blog just east of the park for dinner, so at that point we headed back to the Upper West Side where we're staying with friends, refreshed, then took a cab through the park to Serendipity, which I'm told is one of the latest "uber-NY" spots.

We spent the nearly hour long wait for a Serendipity table at Dylan's Candy Bar just up the street, another place like we've not seen anywhere else. Three floors of every possible kind of candy you could imagine, plus all the peripherals like t-shirts, pillows with huge Reese's or M&M logo's on them, even a brand of candy called Toxic Waste. Which most of it is, anyway. The twins went ga-ga, and I have to admit, it's the most unique candy store I've ever seen. I had to get some marzipan and almond-crusted English toffee. But only a little.

Serendipity was unique as well. Imagine a TGI Fridays, Victorian style, with everything white. Lots of old stuff hung on the walls. And wait staff from India & Pakistan. Amazing desserts. Lemon cheesecake with vanilla bean ice cream, fresh peaches & blueberries, fresh lemon zest and whipped cream? On a 90+ degree New York day? Who could resist that? Fellow blogger Moving Horizon was delightful, and afterward took us to his office for a wonderful evening view. Along the way he pointed out a rare phenomenon called Manhattan-henge, where if you time it right you can see the sun setting exactly between two walls of buildings down one street, lined up perfectly just like Stonehenge. It was very cool. He was wonderful company and is flying home tonight to have The Talk with his parents. It was amazing how similar our experiences have been to this point and I pray his parents react more positively than my family has.

It was a beautiful evening as we walked around midtown. We stopped at St. Pat's for a look but they were already closed. Today, perhaps. Then on to the theatre district to meet up with friend with whom we're staying, and thence we enjoyed a stroll home; at past 10 pm it was cool and refreshing and the city was active as ever, streets filled with people, everything still humming at 100 mph. Summer nights in New York. Irresistible. Wish I could have stayed out longer. When we got home I fell asleep almost immediately. After spending all day on your feet, who wouldn't?

And now it's Wednesday morning, the twins are still asleep (resisting any adjustment to East Coast time), so I have laundry going in the basement and am about to wake them so we can get going again. I didn't bring them to New York to sleep half the day! In a little while we're meeting up with another MoHo family member for more amazing NYC fun, then tonight we'll see Billy Elliot. I love this town.


Tim Trent said...

It;s a city with many faces, Rob. I was there last in 2001. I promised a friend that I would visit the scene were he and his partner of many years were victims of a gay bashing some 21 years previously.

Now my geography of the place is hazy and it was nine years ago, but it was in Greenwich Village, a little away from the waterfront. Clarkson Street rings a bell, but the address itself is irrelevant.

Every other part of New York I had enjoyed and had your reaction to. This part was... different. There is nothing particular about the place that sets it apart from any other part.

Marc and Ricky had set out to walk home from the restaurant to their apartment. Ricky wanted a cab, Marc wanted to walk. Not far along their way a car stopped and men got out with baseball bats. Ricky died that night on the sidewalk in Marc's arms. Marc was severely beaten and often wishes he had died as well.

I promised to visit the spot for Marc, a man I'd met only online until the following weekend when I was his guest in his home in Ohio.

It may be suggestion, it may be real, but, when I got there I felt inexplicably cold. I'd promised Marc to speak to Ricky there, to tell him that everything with Marc was all right, somehow to allow him to depart. I did. I don't claim that the place became any warmer, and this was in January!

In Ohio Marc was able to tell me the precise time I'd been there and that he felt, suddenly, that Ricky was at peace. He knows he is watched over by his first partner and feels blessed, of that is the right word.

I'm not sure what prompted me to post this under your glorious and cheerful post. I think the prior post about Provincetown where the two of them had a home, too, was the starting trigger. I certainly didn't mean to change the mood, yet I know I have.

I think my point was that we must still, 30 or more years after such a mindless act of violence, be aware that places that are familiar are not always safe, and that, while we are mist assuredly one of the many facets of normal, others do not always wish us well.

Horizon said...

It was a wonderful evening! Come back soon and thanks for the well wishes. Enjoy Billy Elliot tonight!

Mister Curie said...

Sounds like you are having quite the trip! I'm glad you and the kids are enjoying NYC so much! I also had a great trip recently to NY and with meeting Horizons. I hope the rest of your trip is just as great!

Chedner said...

Hopefully one day I'll make it to New York...

Horizon said...

@Chedner - You will. And you are always welcome to stay with me here when you do.

Keaton said...

What?? no Yankees?? Whats with that. Chinatown and Little Itlia and shopping on Canal street are must do things. Duck soup from the Nazi chef. I'm envious!!

Casey said...

Looks like you had a fantastic trip! We took the kids to NYC last year... first time for me, my wife, and them, and we experienced the same kind of awe that you described in the twins. Glad it all went well for you three!