Friday, December 5, 2014

Live from New York

The Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan 

I've walked through the streets of New York City a thousand times. I've traveled on its subways and hailed taxis from the curb. I've caught a summer breeze on the fire escape of my Brooklyn walk up and sat on the steps of my Brownstone watching kids skip rope. I've spent weeks strolling down  the avenue gazing in store windows at a divine pair of Jimmy Choo shoes and meeting my gal friends for brunch. I've lined up for meals and desserts at all kinds of restaurants from the posh to dives.

Snow White in the Saks Fifth Avenue store window

I've spent the night at the American Museum of Natural History and watched everything come alive when the visitors are gone for the day. I've taken a spin in Gatsby's yellow car. I've romped in Central Park on a snowy December night and sang "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" with all my might until Santa's sleigh flew off into the sky.

Skating rink at Rockefeller Center

The thing is... until last week, I've only  physically spent a handful of days in New York City — not even enough to need more than one hand's worth of fingers to count. I've certainly never actually lived in the Big Apple.

But my oh my, I've been transporting myself there in my imagination for years. I went from being a kid who wondered if someone could tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street to eavesdropping on Seinfeld from the next booth over at the coffee shop. I've lounged around Central Perk with all my Friends, and enviously counted the vast number of times the ladies from Sex and the City managed to get together for brunch. (Seriously, my own friends and I don't get together nearly as often.) Law and Order had me looking over my shoulder, and "Live from New York. It's Saturday Night!"

Yellow taxis at night with a horse and carriage off to the left side

Long before Night at the Museum, I wanted to sneak in an overnight stay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art like the brother-sister duo in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Growing up in a suburban neighborhood in Texas, I was fascinated by the freedom of the kids in Harriet the Spy and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Their world seemed so much bigger than mine.

The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center on a rainy evening

I traveled back through time to the Roaring Twenties reading The Great Gatsby and wondered at the excess and decadence of Long Island's West Egg. I briefly pondered the merits of Objectivism as well as New York's modern architecture movement reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Let the Great World Spin took me all over 1974's New York from the Park Avenue apartment of a grieving mother to the seedy sidewalks where hookers turn tricks just to put food on the table and heroin in their veins. I sighed with relief that I'm not in a city with the ultra-competitive parents  of The Nanny Diaries or the ridiculous workplace demands of The Devil Wears Prada. Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney, Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow... the list goes on and on. Reading the words on those pages, my imagination was caught up in what it is like to be a resident of New York.

Father-daughter duet on the The Big Piano at FAO Schwarz

New York in the movies? Where to start? I've danced on the piano at FAO Schwarz with man-boy Tom Hanks in Big and dance battled with the Sharks and the Jets in West Side Story. I've wept watching the boy reconciling with his loss on 9/11 in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and laughed at Will Ferrell in Elf. I've had Breakfast at Tiffany's (except that you can't). I've discovered the city with the sailors on shore leave in On the Town and thanked my lucky stars that my Malaysian monkey problems weren't the size of King Kong

Snoopy balloon at the 2014 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

New York is even a city that I've experienced via food. As a person who loves cooking and baking, I keep trying out recipes like Crack Pie from Momofuku's Milk Bar and the Oprah-recommended Frrrozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity 3. I've watched famous chefs create signature dishes on TV shows and wished that I could reach through the screen for a spoonful.

The Empire State Building (left) and Manhattan at sunset as seen from the top of Rockefeller Center

Now that we are back to living in America, I excitedly turned my sights to New York City for our first big trip. Since we've returned, our pace of travel has greatly slowed. It's been 4 months since we've gone somewhere, much longer than the 6-8 weeks that used to pass between trips in cheap-to-explore SE Asia. It's allowed me to savor the buildup towards our vacation and actually take time to plan and research what to do.

Last week, we arrived in the Big Apple and actually, in reality, in person got to walk through the streets of New York City... just as I've done a thousand times before.

This post is part of the following link-ups. Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.


  1. Oh my gosh I loved this post, Michele!! I've done the EXACT same thing about New York City but have actually to make it there yet. So, this post allowed me live vicariously through you on SO many thoughts - Seinfeld, Friends, Big, Night at the Museum, King Kong...check, check, check, check, check. Thank you...this put a big smile on my face! I hope all of you are doing well! :)

  2. What a wonderful tribute to New York City! You're mentioning so many references, I'll have to bookmark this blog for close reading later, to read the books and watch the movies you mention. (I know some but not all). And, of course, I have to add it to my New York City pin. Thanks for sharing!

  3. You had me for a bit! I was thinking where did she find the time to experience so much of NYC. I didn't know she lived there at one time, I thought (haha) NYC really is a global city, and wherever we are on the planet we can experience some small piece of it as long as we have a TV or an Internet connection. I've also been lucky enough to roam the streets on NYC a few times. I have a lot of fond memories of the city. I think the great Broadway shows I've seen tops the list. I remember seeing the Lion King sitting on a shabby kitchen chair, the vinyl cracked, but what a view I had!

  4. Michele, Jim and I try to go to NYC at least once a year, just for a day. I find it too overwhelming to attempt more than that, but I love having one goal in mind. This year we visited the Gugenheim...amazing! Thanks for linking up with Weekend Travel Inspiration!

  5. New York is such a magical city, especially during the holidays. That's my favorite time of the year to go. I'm glad you got to experience it all and go to the Macy's Parade. Thanks for sharing and linking up to #WeekendWanderlust.

  6. You sucked me in Michele. I was thinking Gosh, I never knew Michele llived in NYC. How could I not have known that! Ha ha how tricky. Glad you got there in real life too. Your sunset photo from the Rockefeller Center is superb.

  7. I loved this post about one of my favourite places on earth! You captured that familiarity with the city (even before you've set foot in it) so well.

  8. I love NYC as well and I really feel it's one of those places you can visit hundreds of times and have a different experience each time! Enjoy!! :) Thanks so much for linking up with Weekend Wanderlust

  9. It's that familiarity from books and movies that I love most about New York - and the fact that every visit is just as exciting as the first! We have been trying to plan a trip back to NYC since last summer when we gifted Emma a trip to the city for her birthday - I think we are going to be able to book it for February and we can't wait!!

  10. What a beautiful post! I'd be jealous enough if you'd just said you'd been in New York, but now you've reminded me of so much desire to be in the city and so many great films and movies that have inspired that desire, that I'm turning green with envy!

  11. Damn! you make me want to visit New York ...

  12. Ha! You got me too and I thought I knew quite a bit about you from your posts and I was wondering when you lived in NYC :) I'm glad you and your family enjoyed your visit and on such a wonderful week to visit too with the Macy's parade. NY really is inspirational and it's no wonder it's such a great setting for popular movies and books. I find Manhattan a little overwhelming but I do like exploring its outskirts. Here's hoping you're planning your next trip soon.

  13. I love this post - so well written! And your pictures are great. I LOVE NYC and I'm looking forward to a return trip sometime soon. I think you made a wise choice in choosing NYC as your destination for your U.S. kickoff trip. I've always wanted to try the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity, but the last time I was in NYC, the place was packed so we skipped it.

  14. What a fabulous ode to New York! I love the city so much. There is always something interesting to do. I can't wait for my next trip there :)

  15. Hi Michelle, what a beautiful writing you have here; such a masterpiece.
    I love how you pieced together "your New York life" through the books your read and movies/shows you saw. It's interesting to read other people's insight about living in NYC. It gives me renewed appreciation for things I tend to take for granted. I'm glad you and your family enjoyed your visit. And it was nice to meet you even for a bit.

  16. Oh wow - you have totally transported me there with your words! Apart from home (London), NYC is probably my favourite city in the world - I've only been for short trips but would never tire of seeing it in all its glory. I bookd months ahead years ago when i visited to try out the frozen hot choc from Serendipity (totally worth it!) I hope you get to try out doing and seeing all these things when you move back and look forward to reading all about itt!

  17. Your photos are fantastic - the Met at night, wow! And I haven't thought about The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in years! Loved that book! I finally made it to New York in my 20's after reading about it for years and as much as I love the city I can only do it in bits and pieces. I have yet to visit at Christmas which is my next goal. Glad you finally made it there!

  18. I feel the same--always wanting to visit NYC because of the movies, I've only been there once, but will be going again in July!
    This post would be great for next week's prompt "Movies and Travel"

  19. Cool post! @Diana Elle is right; this post would be perfect for next week's prompt! But maybe that means you have another movies and travel post, too? Thanks for linking up with us on Travel Tuesday!


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