New York!

The most interesting thing going on recently was my trip to New York. I had been to Ellis Island once before but had otherwise not been to the Big Apple until I went last Sunday with Seth and Katie. We drove to a train station and then took public transportation the rest of the day. I was expecting really pushy people (here in Monterey, to be called a “New Yorker” is one of the worst insults possible — they are thought of as pushy, demanding, noisy, and aggressive), but I found that they were not much different than people I encountered when I lived in Chicago. Some amount of pushiness and confidence (or over-confidence) is required for survival in a city, it seems. Barring that, New Yorkers were actually quite pleasant.

Grand Central Station is huge! Our train came into that station and we loitered for a while, staring at the constellations on the ceiling, watching people as they hurried to catch trains, and wandering past numerous little stands and stores.

We first went to the little red lighthouse of children’s storybook fame (The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge). It stands under the George Washington Bridge, and, though it would be enormous in other settings, the lighthouse was absolutely dwarfed by the monstrosity of the bridge. Even more fun than actually seeing the lighthouse was seeing Seth’s glee (and frolicking) at finally seeing it himself. It’s been a long-time ambition for him. =)

Next, we were planning to go through Central Park but, as usual, things always take much longer in cities than you think they’re going to take. Instead, because we were getting hungry, we went to an Italian restaurant in the theater district, via a corner of Central Park. There we found the plaque in honor of Seth’s friend’s half-sister and a very lonely woman sitting in front of it who wanted to hear all about the farm and tell us all about New York. After we talked to her for a while, she told us that we had made her evening. That conversation, in combination with the delicious pizza, the company of Seth and Katie, and a toast of wine “to Gould Farm and being away from it”, made for a wondrously satisfying meal.

After we finished, the sun was setting, so we walked to Times Square and the Rockefeller Center, hitting 5th Avenue and Broadway on the way to and from. People were ice skating to classical music at the Rockefeller Center, making a romantic setting in the middle of the city. At Times Square the lights were so bright it was nearly as light as a cloudy day, regardless of the sun’s having already set. That was a bit of a sensory overload for me… And as I was watching all the glitz and glamour, I tried not to concentrate too much on the five homeless people I had seen in the previous block, for better or worse wanting not to fill my mind with thoughts of injustice that I could not, at that point, combat.

Near Times Square we bought some candied almonds from a street vendor, which, after the NY pretzel earlier in the afternoon, felt like a nearly complete cultural food picture of NYC (all I need now is a Central Park hot dog). Oh — I forgot to tell you about the two drummers with four drums and two stools who got on the subway at one station, sat down and did a five minute concert, and then got off at another station. Ah, the city and its diversity and possibility…

After all of this, the time came for the original reason for journeying into the city — The Lion King at the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway! I was expecting it to be good but perhaps not as good as all the reviews I had heard. But, holy cow!, it was even better than the reviews had led me to believe it would be. The costuming and the music, the sets and the dancing… were simply incredible!! Definitely worth the money I paid (I won’t tell you how much… it’s somewhat embarrassing, especially in light of the homeless folk we passed. I’m a volunteer but I’m still pretty spoiled.)! The creativity was stunning.

Finally, tired and ready to get back to farm life, we went to the train station just in time to catch a train that would get us to the car by 12:00am and home at 1:00am, where we fell into bed, completely satisfied with a fun day in NYC.

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