My New York adventure began with a lazy morning. Marina and I were up around 11 and grilled some burgers for lunch. We then caught a train to Grand Central Station. I was really excited to take some pictures on our approach to the city, but it turns out that you approach Grand Central underground, so my pictures left something to be desired.
We arrived in the city and walked out into the main concourse of the station. It was just like all the movies, I suppose. There were fewer people and they weren’t all wearing suits… but, more or less the same. We walked out, Marina pointed us in the right direction and we started walking. We saw some large buildings and eventually ended up in a cute little park. Then, suddenly, we were in Times Square… and it wasn’t that different from any New York street. It was a little wider and had more advertisements. All in all, it was pretty underwhelming. But, there was an M&M store. I have to admit, I was curious as to what that entailed. I thought it would just be an unreasonable amount of M&Ms, and I didn’t want to miss that, so we went in. Like I had expected, many of the walls were covered in giant tubes of M&Ms, sorted by color and contents, but, more than that, in a brazen tribute to our American consumerist culture, there were objects of every variety, shape, and size masquerading as M&Ms. Apparently, putting a face on a beach towel triples its value. I didn’t know this, but I do now and maybe someday I’ll take advantage of it. When we reached the third floor of the M&M store, we found the real money makers. Jewelry for upwards of two hundred dollars and “collectable items”, like a three thousand dollar bomber jacket made of lambskin and bedazzled with jewels.
To revive me from the shock of big city stupidity, Marina took me to Central Park, which is enormous. Marina estimated it to be about twenty-five miles long (which was later proven grievously incorrect). We wandered, enjoying the nature that seemed so real in the midst of Manhattan. Marina informed me that there were polar bears and a castle in the park, and, although I was skeptical, it seemed like a magical kind of place where that could happen, so I believed her (this Marina fact is still unverified. We saw the castle but polar bears are still a point of contention). We then proceeded to do some serious people-watching in the Sheep Meadow. I may post a more complete description at a later time, but believe me when I say, it was intense.
After what seemed like only minutes (it was more than an hour) we were torn from our anthropological studies by a previous obligation. We met up with Marina’s friend Kasey, a twenty year-old Chinese girl with a dry sense of humor and a penchant for meowing. Marina and I managed to convince Kasey to come out to dinner with us and the two girls lead me to Cafetasia (Cafatasia?). It was a nice little Thai restaurant with some serious mood lighting.
After dinner, Marina, Kasey and I went to an open mic night at a nearby music hall. Their friend, Dan (stage name Filippo) was performing he was pretty good and it was quite an entertaining evening. There were two comics who made jokes about suicide and child support. Neither was funny, but it was extremely uncomfortable for the audience. There were also two absolutely amazing acts; one girl who sounded exactly like Nora Jones, and a passionate French girl with an accordion.
When Kasey got tired shortly before midnight, Marina and I walked her most of the way home, then headed over to the apartment of Lauren, another of Marina’s friend, with whom we’d be staying. Lauren wasn’t home yet because she was working late, but she had left us her keys so we moved right in. Since it was still over ninety degrees, we quickly became acquainted with Lauren’s air conditioner, which we would later name Fanny. Marina and I bummed around the apartment until Lauren arrived. She had been at an art gallery opening and told us several important details. First, John Mayer and several other celebrities had been there. Second, she was exhausted. Third, there had been free wine and she was a bit drunk. According to Marina, Lauren can be a bit introverted, but she was very outgoing and she and I got along great.
Over the next two days, Marina showed me all around the city. We went to the castle in Central Park, we explored all sorts of little cafes and parks, and we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and cavorted on Wall Street. She also took me to see the main buildings of her school (NYU) and we went to the nearby Music Inn, a legendary music shop with hundreds of instruments I’d never seen before. It was amazing. We walked in an elevated park and down by the Hudson. I got to meet Marina’s extremely charming friend Jake, who later described me as “surprisingly nice”. We got along great.
Our last night in the city, Lauren joined Marina and I in the living room so she could sleep nearer Fanny, the air-conditioning unit and only hope for temperatures below ninety. We had a fun little sleep-over that highlighted the similarities between Lauren and me. To put it simply, she’s enough like me, and I like myself enough that we could probably be best friends.
The next day, after a dinner of a new dish named “Chicken with Bacon” (chicken, bacon , and Meunster cheese) and my best rendition of my mom’s cauliflower Dijon, we headed back to Connecticut. We arrived around midnight and crashed.