Thursday, January 10, 2013

new york city

Somehow, completely miraculously, I got to go to New York City. I literally almost didn't put it on my bucket list, because of the good old twinge of cyncism: "yeah right, that would never happen and if I put it on my list, it will just make me depressed as it continues to not happen."

And then this glorious trip to NYC, and then Pennsylvania for a blog conference, all came together and ended up being the most amazing trip ever.

Of course I've always loved New York City as an idea--but the living, breathing, place was way more amazing than I expected. It really felt like a totally different world. The whole trip was surreal and kind of unbelievable. 

a few favorite things from the trip:

  • Listening to our epic NYC playlist on the train. including, of course, Bob Dylan. I specifically made an appropriate mix of songs to listen to that would remind me of our trip later. Ironically, the city gave us it's very own soundtrack--there were street musicians playing the best songs, there were stores we'd walk past that were blasting the best songs, there were rickshaws playing chasing the sun.

  • Stepping off of the subway into NYC for the first time, and the guy singing significant emotional song after significant emotional song as we figured out where to go, discovered I had left one of my suitcases at the airport several hours away, and got giddy with the fact that we are here. 
  • Walking miles through the city carrying a positively ridiculous amount of luggage. We got lost amidst the hordes of self-aware, stylish people. We finally found the Subway station, got to Brooklyn, and walked the additional mile to the family's house where we stayed. It literally got to climbing-a-mountain level of exhaustion and demoralization. 

  • Sitting on the edge of a luggage carousel with my mom at 10pm, listening to "Someone Like You" and singing it to my lost suitcase. With the help of the fabulous singing black women, we found the dang thing and got back home to go to bed after one of the most amazing and glorious days I've ever had. Pastor Troy was a complete hero to drive us there and back.
  • Brooklyn. Bethany's soul is Brooklyn. We would walk the half-mile to the Subway and back every day, and the walk was always beautiful and full of interesting cultural experiences. :)

  • All of the honking. It was crazy and kind of awesome. In our city (Portland) drivers are usually mildly kind to pedestrians, but in NYC, everyone is horrible to each other. People pour across the crosswalks even when it's not their turn. Therefore the cars nose into the crosswalk, honking continuously as people trot across. It's kind of incredible that people don't get run over more consistently. 

  • Red fire escapes. I would like to have this apartment and just hang out on the fire escape and read books and eat breakfast and swing my legs and stuff.
  • Shoes. There was an magical store called Rainbow that we walked passed every day, and when I lost my flip flops/obtained horrific blisters from the Death March/was judged by passersby for my summery footwear (they were all wearing coats and hats and boots but holy cow, it was actually hot outside), I decided it was time to buy some appropriate shoes. Guys, New York has dirt-cheap shoes that will make your dreams come true. I found my ideal pink flats that I have been searching for for my entire life. Not only were they FIVE BUCKS, but they are literally the first shoes I have ever had that don't give me blisters. Comfiest, happiest shoes. By the end of the trip, they proudly told many stories, including miles and miles of walking and the run-in with the escalator (more on that later). Sadly, I left them under a bed in a Pennsylvania hotel, but I bought an extra pair to wear at home, so I still have those. :)

  • Of course, taking photos. I was constantly lagging behind, photographing the city within an inch of its life.

  • The random dressed up (or um...dressed-down--heard of the "Naked Cowboy? yikes) people everywhere. Spiderman holding up traffic, Tigger, Spongebob...

  • The architecture. Holy cow.

  • Times Square. I loved it to death. We got to go at least four times, and it was always gloriously full of people and noise and color.

  • Broadway. Checked off another thing on my bucket list! We got to see Phantom of the Opera, which was absolutely incredible. The hurtling chandelier, the pure, gorgeous voice of the Phantom, the actual heroic-ness of Raoul that worked for me way more than it did in the movie... it was beautiful.

  • The NYPD. You know how they are always in the movies? It was kind of epic to see them in real life. :)

  • The weather. It was absolutely gorgeous almost the entire time. Which was very, very handy especially for taking photos--it's not the most fun to have to stuff my camera down my coat. 

  • Central Park. It was massive, and gorgeous, and smack-dab in the middle of the city, which is why it's so glorious. I recognized so many things from it--including the chase scene in Kate & Leopold and lots from When in Rome and Enchanted. I was literally prancing around like an idiot, going "WOAH THAT'S WHERE PRINCE EDWARD GOT RUN OVER!"
  • Creeper-photographing. I kind of just wanted to go up to people (especially the in-love people) and ask to take their picture. BUT I'm a coward and since I was traveling with people, didn't want to embarrass them/lag behind even more than I already was. If I ever go back (which I really, really, really want to) I'm totally going to do that because, I don't know, New York City is meant for photographing people in love.

  • My Elmo juice boxes from my stupendously awesome sister, Bethany. ♥

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Full of weird and awesome things.

(somehow this is me and Bethany's souls)

  • The happy helmet. Yes.

  • The frequent photo-bombing of people in "I ♥ NY" shirts. I didn't notice it at all until I looked through my photos later and found tons of them. (and yes, I DID buy that shirt cuz I'm cheesy and because I do ♥ NY.)

  • Subway/street dancers. Loved them all. Wanted to give them all my money.
  • Shopping on 5th Avenue! Dream of my life.
  • The Diesel store. I need to go back with a man who can try on all their incredible men's jeans which are hanging, starched into shape (kind of awesome and kind of creepy).

  • The store with the rainbow stairs and the brilliant bathroom.

  • People. Hordes of them. I loved it.

(again with the photo bombing!)

  • Map-consulting--often.

  • The entire Subway deal. How it was too hot down in the stations but too cold inside of of the Subway. The weird people and the awesome people and the little kids in school uniforms and the army cadet reading studiously and the mullet-dreadlocked guy with tattoos on his face and a sleepy dog.
  • Riding the most terrifying and amazing ride ever. We took the Subway to Coney Island super late at night, because Bethany had been on this rollercoaster before and was dying to force me to go on it with her. I was trying to figure out how it could be so scary since she promised me that there was no spinning and no going upside-down. Turns out it was wildly terrifying because every drop is WORSE than completely vertical. I closed my eyes, which helped my eyes not think I was about to die, but did nothing for my heart, soul, and stomach, which went into shock and hurtled around in my insides. It. was. amazing. Can't wait to do it again--and keep my eyes open this time. :)

  • The pumpkins, signs of rest and peace and healing. Because no matter how confused we got on our way home every night (sometimes at 1am), we would always know we had found our haven as soon as we saw the pumpkins.

  • Getting to go to two churches in one day. We stayed with the pastor of a tiny church in Brooklyn, so we went to his church in the morning. Absolutely awesome, with people with Brooklyn accents and the love of Jesus bursting out of them. And then we went into the Manhattan area and went to one of the campuses for Redeemer Church (Tim Keller's church--much more on him in another post, swoon). He wasn't there, since he's not quite stalk-able enough to find out which campus he'll be at each Sunday. But it was life-changing and inspiring and gospel-seeping-out-everywhere all the same. 

  • Central Park again in the evening. 

  • The Brooklyn Bridge. Love love love love.

  • The trees. Gah.

(a favorite photo-bomb)

  • My gorgeous mama, who orchestrated the whole thing and whose skills of plotting and strategizing are an important counterpart to my... LET'S JUST THROW AWAY THE MAP AND GET LOST approach.

  • The Statue of Liberty. Yeah, kind of obsessed. People said she wasn't all that impressive in real life, but I thought she was magnificent.

  • The Escalator Incident at Ellis Island. My mom's long skirt got caught, which resulted in pushing the emergency off-switch and yanking and yanking until it got loose. The skirt was shredded and my hands were covered in horrific escalator grease. We had to borrow scissors from the gift shop and I crouched on the floor and trimmed her poor straggly gypsy-woman skirt into some semblance of appropriateness. We are classy.

  • Her.

  • Taking waif pictures of Bethany in her very favorite place--the graveyard.


  • Wall Street. We sat in the park and ate spicy food which dripped all over us and Bethany drank the most horrific smoothie I have ever seen. Good times.

  • The beautiful, tragic 9/11 memorial inside of Trinity Church right by where the Twin Towers fell.

  • The Kind of Sketchy Part of Town (aka where I always get really excited).

  • Eating sushi in Little Italy. (yeah, it doesn't make sense). The first real raw fish I've eaten, since every time I've had sushi I've gotten away with the kind with the smoked salmon, because I'm a baby and more afraid of food poisoning than most anything else. I did NOT get food poisoning, much to my surprise.
  • Lucky Luciano, our very Italian, very flamboyant, very affectionate waiter. He roped us into coming to his restaurant (we came AFTER we'd already eat sushi...he was really persuasive, okay?? I'm not good at standing up to Italians) and then gave us the most amazing food. 

  • THIS PIZZA. We supposedly had "the best pizza in the city" in Times Square, but it couldn't even compare to this gloriousness in nitty-gritty Little Italy. I ate so much food that night, holy cow.

Yeah, because I ate this too.

  • Strand Bookstore. The best.

(I didn't notice this until I went through my photos...)

  • The massiveness of everything--Macy's, the world's largest department store. Nine floors, twelve restaurants. An entire floor for shoes. And Toys 'R Us, which had a ferris wheel inside of it. A FERRIS WHEEL.

  • Grand Central Station. I want to go here every day and sit and drink coffee and take pictures and watch everyone run around.

  • Bethany's message that she wrote on one of the iPads at the Apple Store in the station...

  • Gelato. We didn't need food (weren't even hungry) but again... the Italians. We sampled every single thing and it was absolutely amazing.

  • Buying Taylor Swift's new album in Times Square. Incidentally she had actually been in Times Square that morning, which was freaky.

(this is how Bethany felt sometimes in Times Square with all the people and noise and colors. she's more into the serenity and the Jews that are to be found in Brooklyn)

  • Randomly running across the Les Miserables plaque... thing...

There was much rejoicing.

Basically, it was incredible. It was every bit as amazing as I expected, with a whole heaping load of totally-epic and wildly-magical that I hadn't bargained on. I'm hopelessly in love with the place and hope, somehow to go back. At least once, or maybe twice. Or maybe live there for awhile. Or forever.

I was so, so blessed to be able to go, and to be able to come back. And to have this epic God who gets a kick out of making these glorious things happen.