Lemme boast for a second.
I know the best people! And the Lord is so good to me! I got to be in New York City, for the first time ever, to see one of the most important people and stay for free.
After four complete days I spent about $300 total because I know people who know people. It just blows my mind how fortunate I am to have freak things like this happen on a relatively regular basis. The Lord is good y’all.
Okay, let’s back up a bit. After just three full weeks of office work, I was already headed back to Minnesota for a few days to celebrate Christmas with my family. Thanks to escalated flight prices around the holidays, the best deal I could find was flying roundtrip out of JFK, with me taking the Amtrak train down to New York after work one day in Brattleboro. It may not have been the most convenient, but it was the cheapest which made ya girl happy.
Minne was great, as it usually is. I got to see friends and family which make my world go round, and again I was reminded that Minnesota is indeed my home, and it is a fact I am proud of. With plans to fly back on the 28th of December, it was a short trip but one that was actually filled with rest. I feel that sometimes I get too hyped that I’m home and jam-pack my schedule with as many things as possible in order to optimize my time. But, instead, a few plans fell through, I canceled some others, and with it I actually got to hang out with my mom and chill a bit. I loved it.
This brings us to Martina, the shining soul she is. She and I met in Rio at Gastromotiva, and although she is Swiss and I American, we had no doubts that we were going to carry on our friendship well after our time in Brazil had ended. She is so on fire for Christ and one of the silliest, most genuine, kindest people I have ever met. Thanks to the Lord’s work, she and some friends just so happened to be in New York for New Year’s this year, and with the right opportunity, I was able to come along! With me flying back to New York on the 28th, I postponed my train until the afternoon of the first and hung out for four days with some Swiss ladies.
The night I arrived New York was hot.
Okay maybe not hot, but for late December it was raining and I was completely fine taking my jacket off. After running around Penn Station trying to find each other for an hour, my main memory was that I was sweating. After an elongated greeting, we headed off to get settled into our apartment for the night. Now, Tina’s group had an Airbnb in Queens that they stayed in the whole time, but with me as an addition the place would just be too crowded so, thanks to Martina’s extrovertedness, she knew of a woman who lived in Manhattan who would just so happen to be gone the exact days I was in town and was more than okay with us staying in her flat for our vacation. Again, freaky shit guys, it’s normal in my life.
As flying always kicks me at the knees, I was very ready for bed when we finally arrived, but of course Tina and I stayed up chatting for a bit before finally hitting the hay and falling into a deep night’s sleep.
The next morning was brunch. But not brunch with the girls, no. Instead, Martina had reached out to an affiliate of Gastromotiva’s who had been doing work with Social Gastronomy in New York, and asked if we could meet up with him while we were in town. I was thrilled about this because I’m still very passionate about Social Gastronomy even though my internship ended months ago. So, she and I show up to this very cool atmospheric brunch place with crazy-big southern food and see Simone, Tina’s best friend.
From the second she greeted me, I knew she was just one of those people that I would get along with. All throughout my life I’ve had experiences like this where I see a person, maybe a complete stranger, and just know that we would be great friends. Simone is this beautiful grace of a presence and from the get-go was open and warm. Turned out that we had ample time to get to know one another because our Social Gastronomy guy, Harold, was late. Very late. To the point where we didn’t think he was coming. We ordered and had just about finished eating when all of a sudden a waiter came by and dropped off a plate for us that was on the house, then Harold came up and introduced himself.
A large Latino guy in his thirties, apologized profusely for his tardiness and then quickly dove into a discussion about his projects and got to know us three. Turns out his projects are numerous, and they’re all super cool. He grows veggies with kids and reaches communities through food stewardship. Food systems continuously blows my mind y’all, and everyday I’m blown away by the diversity and capacity food had to make change. It’s the thing that brings us all together. We ended up hanging out with Harold for a few hours and were brought to 42nd street to privately tour his rooftop restaurant which was, of course, beautiful. We then decided to grab a coffee around Times Square before heading to Brooklyn to walk the Brooklyn Bridge.
Quick note about transport; we bought a 7-day unlimited pass for the subway and it’s by far the best thing you can do. Super slick, efficient, and cheap way to get around the city, no matter what the weather is like. I highly recommend this pass, which can be bought at any ticket machine.
Stepping into the Brooklyn sun, we were bombarded by people selling tickets to the Statue of Liberty, which we declined because we had bought a City Pass online before arriving. Another quick note about the city pass; it can be a great deal if you plant to be a tourist. For a flat $100 fee you have access to multiple popular sites around the city including the Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Rockefeller Center. Keep in mind though, like any big city, New York has a lot to offer. I had the pass and only ended up using three things, which I then pawned off to other girls in the group so they could get more use out of it. For more info on the City Pass, click here.
The Brooklyn Bridge was packed with people as soon as we ascended the stairs. So much so that at one point they actually closed off pedestrian access because it had reached capacity. The walk was slow because of bottlenecks but that actually ended up being to our advantage because it was sunset and the light was just right. Taking our time over the bridge made me appreciate the view more and we stopped to take our fair share of dramatic insta pictures. After so much walking, my feet were killing me so we hobbled back to the subway and back to the apartment to rest before dinner.
Back in Brooklyn that same night, we ended up at a corner Brazilian restaurant called Mrs. Favela near all the best vintage shops. Filled with Latinos and Brazilians, the mix of loud music, good food, caipirinhas and speaking Portuguese transported me back to many similar nights I had in Rio. At one point I looked at Martina across the table and actually started to tear up a bit due to pure nostalgia.
Some moments in life, I’m simply overwhelmed by how fortunate I’ve been and how full a life I’ve already been able to live. It hits me like a Mac truck and I can’t help but be thankful.
After dinner I pulled myself together and we all went to have a few drinks at a friend’s apartment just one subway stop away before heading out salsa dancing. Like all clubs, it was hot, dark, and sweaty and I was over it pretty quickly. Martina and I went home at about 2am and I remember talking about Jesus on the subway with her.
The next, groggy, morning was Sunday so Tina and I dragged our butts to the Brooklyn Tabernacle and witnessed some awesome gospel music and some red-hot preachin’ before grabbing lunch at the Chelsea Market and heading to church round 2 at Hillsong.
I have to say, after witnessing the acoustic gospel vibe of the morning, Hillsong looked like they were trying too hard. It was too loud, I was hangry, and the sermon wasn’t great. I was actually grateful when it ended because I could finally sit and eat my lunch I had bought two hours prior.
With nourishment in me, I felt like a new human so we met up with Anina and walked Central Park where I got to see the John Lennon ” Imagine” memorial. We tried to get in line for the Empire State Building, but because it was sunset time, the lines were out he door and we planned to come back later in the evening after dinner.
At this point, I had some solo time because Martina broke off to celebrate a birthday so I went home, charged my phone, got dressed for dinner, and then met five of the nine girls at the Restaurant called Smith’s for some up-scale American grub. I think everyone at this point was feeling a bit tired so we decided to call it a night after dinner and again , I found myself alone in the city. I actually loved this. With my time that evening I walked Times Square (saw they were setting up for New Years) and ended at the Empire State Building like we had originally planned.
Being alone, anywhere in the world, I find that I appreciate my surroundings more than when I have another person to focus on. Instead of diving into heart conversations (like I always end up doing) I get to focus my attention outwardly on my environment. I get to reflect in-the-moment how I’m feeling and don’t have to compromise with anyone about what I want to do. Perks of solo travel y’all! The Empire State Building history and structure are cool, especially since it was built in the 1920’s, but everyone knows you’re up there for the view.
Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The city literally sparkles. For miles around all you see are glittering lights and the surrounding water cutting through the landscape. The night was pleasantly breezy and I felt like I was looking at an upside-down sky. Instead of constellations, each light represented other people, each individually making their own life in the city that never sleeps. It was then that I think the New York bug bit me. I see the draw, understand it now, and want to be apart of it. New York not only represents opportunity and the American dream, but it also is so diverse and exciting! I feel I could live here, and at times feel like I’m not living in America. That’s pretty important to me and my wandering soul. I also never felt particularly overwhelmed in New York. Rio sometimes got to me and London for sure did, the pace, the size, and activity. And although NYC has that, for some reason it felt so much more manageable. I felt I had space and could breathe should I need to. Long story short, I’ll be back, and maybe I won’t leave.
After I had descended the tower and was back wondering the streets, I fought with myself over maybe stopping at a jazz club, something I desperately wanted to do, or going home and getting rest. Ultimately, my tired body won and I was back in Midtown and in bed by midnight.
I’m thrilled I did that because the next day was New Years Eve, and it was packed! Tina and I woke up bright and early to be greeted by wind gusts and rain clouds quickly rolling in over our heads. We went down to the ports for a perfectly-timed (although quite chilly) boat tour around the Statue of Liberty. This was included in our City Pass, and I was quite content with not actually going onto Elis Island. We got the express-experience and were back at the dock minutes before the rain started to fall.
After walking nearby Wall St. in the financial district (all I could think about was the Depression era and my Grandparent’s generation… it made me a bit sad) we caught the subway Uptown, where I got off at the Met, and Tina went for Korean food. She’s not big into museums, but oh man, I could have spend two weeks in the Met alone. Crowded, yes, but still magical. Full of art from every era, all over the world. I was captivated by American paintings (who knew?), Polynesian prints, Egyptian temples, and Medieval statues. I was there for two hours and didn’t even leave the first floor. Just another reason to return though, am I right?
The reason I rushed was because the girls were having everyone over to get ready and pre-drink by 4, which of course turned into 6, but Tina had the grand plan to meet back at our apartment by 3pm to clean and pack up. I was there by three, she was not, but I loved it because I got to take a much-needed nap. Cognitively knowing I was going to be out all night scared me a little bit based on my level of exhaustion. The prep was appreciated. After hours of drinking, primping, and picture-taking, we were ready to ring in the new year at a hotel rooftop in Brooklyn. The space was (thankfully) covered because it was pouring rain. It would have been great had the skyline been visible, and the fireworks on display, but to be honest midnight crept up on me and I don’t really feel I missed anything.
I will say, I did the weird eye-contact thing with a few guys at midnight, one of which was interested on me and I was not, the other vice versa. We all ended up kissless, but if I’ve made it this long without a New Years kiss, I’m confident I can survive another year. I got another drink, danced some more, ate some pizza, and met a Canadian man and his father on the subway home.
Arriving back in New England the next day felt… good. It felt a bit more comfortable. More normal, and right now, I’m so good with that. For this year, I made my resolution weeks ago with my work (I’m trying the MamaSezz 2-Week Plant Based Challenge) but on a personal level, I want to read more. I’m open to suggestions, per usual.
What’s your resolution?
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Love you kids, until next time!