My first trip to New York was in summer 2001. Yes, that 2001; it was barely six weeks before it happened, but we’ll get to that in a second. Two years prior to this particular trip, my friend Leslie and I visited Nova Scotia. You’re probably thinking “why Nova Scotia?” That’s…a long story; I will save it for much later. It was a fantastic trip and where I picked up drinking, but most important, it’s when we discovered a Canadian band called Great Big Sea. It was love at first sound. A couple of years later, they started touring in the States, and NYC was one of the first stops.
Even though we were poor college students, we found a way to make it up there. Plane tickets weren’t quite as obnoxious as they are now (not to mention, miles went a LOT further then) and Leslie had a friend who was conveniently working there for the summer and had a place we could stay.
We did a lot of the typical “first time in New York” things, at least the ones we could afford. But the whole reason we were there was to see Great Big Sea. Who, eerily, played at an outdoor summer concert series at the World Trade Center, on a stage right between the two towers. Clearly, this is an experience we will never forget and she and I always exchange texts on 9/11. Our biggest regret from that trip was not splurging on the tickets to go to the top. Always go to the top, friends.
Take away the tragedy that occurred right afterward, my first trip there, albeit super fun, left me wondering how in the hell anyone could live there. It was crowded and dirty and at that time of year, hot as balls, which means it was full of stank. I didn’t not like it, but I wasn’t in a rush to go back.
But back I went in winter 2005 because I have A Problem. I have many amazing friends in my industry. The best of them have even helped me stalk Jake Gyllenhaal (and for any of them reading this, I still haven’t met him; let’s keep that in mind going into next year). So that December my friend Haley and I flew up, tickets in hand to the Brokeback Mountain premiere.
I confess, there is nothing like New York at Christmas; it is genuinely magical. I loved every minute of that trip, despite they seedy room we rented (still poor) and the fact Jake was of course not at the premiere (don’t get me started on this). But we did have the chance to meet Heath Ledger, which in hindsight was extra meaningful.
Haley decided to move to NYC after this trip, which she did a few years later. And as much fun as it was, I…still didn’t get it. I was (and still am) West Coast ryde or die. But stick with me here, East Coast, friends. It gets better.
I didn’t go back for 10 years. TEN YEARS. In 2015 I flew up for my 35th birthday to see – wait for it – Jake Gyllenhaal in a play (#AProblem). Make fun of me all you want. I wore a hockey jersey on heavy rotation in high school – I am used to people thinking I am bonkers. Anyhow, one of my girlfriends was supposed to go with me, but couldn’t at the last minute. So this was my first non-work-related trip on my own. I would absolutely do it again; in my opinion, traveling alone is a meditative experience. I went to the 9/11 museum, had lunch at one of Frank Sinatra’s favorite places, saw two plays (my first Broadway experience), had yummy Thai with my NYC bestie, and indulged in a truly decadent birthday dinner at Babbo. It was great.
And it was the first time I GOT IT. The energy and the vibe, they completely sucked me in and I at long last understood the appeal of living in New York. But I would have to fall into a gazillion dollar gig or marry super fucking rich to live the life I would want there. As imaginative and resourceful as I can be, I am quite certain it doesn’t actually work like in the Sex and the City, Friends, and definitely not Younger.
I’ve now had the privilege of visiting NYC twice this year. Once for all work and once for a little work and a lot of fun. The second was a girls trip to, among other things, attend Indie Beauty Expo New York. If you think the one I wrote about in Dallas was amazing, my god…New York was Skincare Wonderland. I’ve planned that as my next post, stay tuned.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a few of my favorite places I’ve experienced during these last few trips. I know my friends who live in New York or travel there often are LOLing at this. However, I also know a lot of people who haven’t yet had the opportunity to go. And, as I discussed with one of my girlfriends who does live there, you don’t always get to play tourist in your own city. Especially THAT city.