Days Three and Four: Bar Percussion and The Upper East Side

This will be a hefty post. I’ve got two days to account for, so bear with me and brace yourself!

I’m very close to giving up on catching up on East Coast time. The problem hasn’t been adjusting to the time zone. I simply don’t want to go to sleep because I’m afraid I’ll miss something. After all, I’m only here until the 18th. I need to take advantage of every moment I have here. Tomorrow, however, will be an early morning, so I might end up forgetting my night-owl ways just for tonight.

My third day in the city was a slower one until the evening. I starting prepping my belongings to be moved into a hotel later this week once Emily/Ana get here. Around 5 pm, I made my way to Grand Central Station to meet Isabelle. I’d forgotten how mind-blowing that place is. The architecture in that building takes my breath away. I was too afraid of looking like a tourist to take pictures by myself while I was there, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to make it back. The ceiling is a magnificent blue-green with constellations written out in gold and the surrounding walls and pillars are supported by intricate details and designs. The space is massive and is very reminiscent of what you’d expect King’s Cross Station to look like. It’s incredibly ethereal and I felt overwhelmed standing in the very center of the main concourse.

Once Isabelle and I were reunited we braved another subway and made our way towards SoHo (my favorite NY borough). We window browsed as we found this quaint little Asian market called Pearl River Mart. It’s two stories of everything oriental, from lamps to shoes to ceramics to food and teas. I loved checking out all of the different types of chopsticks and dishes. I’m glad Isabelle introduced me to that shop and I definitely recommend it if you’re ever in the area.

One of Isabelle’s friends from high school, Rebekah, met up with us at Pearl River so we could grab a bite to eat in Chinatown. That area is easily one of my favorites. I love the markets that spill onto the sidewalk and being able to check out all the produce and seafood. There’s a constant buzz in Chinatown from the people that live there. They always seem to be in such a rush, but it’s an energy that is so easy to feed off of. It’s fascinating to me how people can maintain lives like that; yelling and selling and bargaining day in and day out. It’s such a foreign thing to me, but it’s difficult not to appreciate it all.

We found a tiny little semi-hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant where we dined on some delicious Dim Sum. I wish I’d taken pictures of it all because it was such a birthday feast for Isabelle. I love the display of Chinese food. It’s so thoughtful and intentional. It’s simple and refreshing and light. Our Chinese dinner made my stomach very happy.

After our tummies were full, we were ready for drinks. We found ourselves a cute little bar that Isabelle said serves tasty spiked coffee drinks during the day. We made it with 6 minutes of Happy Hour to spare and Isabelle treated us to vodka tonics with lemon. I’m thrilled I can now enjoy bar life to the fullest. I’m not a party animal by any means, but to be able to sit down with friends and share a drink is just a really nice new aspect of my life.

From there Isabelle and I said our goodbyes to Rebekah since she had work the next morning and we continued on to our next bar. It was only a couple blocks away and it was busy… for people around the age of 30. We didn’t mind and made ourselves comfortable at the bar as we enjoyed our Stellas. The crowd was certainly older, but so eclectic. That would be my choice of bar when I’m that age and living in the city. It was hip and cool and there was good classic rock music playing. The manager and acting bartender of the night played percussion to The Who with spoons and stirrers in front of us as we sat there in pure amusement. He must have enjoyed the attention because he treated us to a his own special drink.

Another friend of Isabelle’s, Carol Ann, found us and the three of us ventured on to a (literally) underground bar called Botanica. More drinks, more chat, then MANY more friends showed up. First in singles, then as a whole family (seriously!). By the time we moved onto the next bar, we were the last few people there.

Our final stop of the night was a mellower scene. I got to know Isabelle’s friends pretty well. They’re a great bunch. A few of them are from Oregon and were visiting the city for the first time. I’m looking forward to seeing them again once we’re back in Eugene.

Close to 4am was when us Brooklyn-bounders decided to call it a night. We made a quick stop at a gyro cart on the way to the subway. We quickly discovered that our train back home stops running at that time of the night. Hail down a taxi it was! And we were quickly on our way back to our beds.

It was such a fun night and I was very excited to share Isabelle’s birthday with her in the city. One thing she continued to mention was how crazy it was that her Oregon friends were there with her in New York. Funny how your worlds collide like that. Although we all knew we weren’t in Eugene, we still felt at home. And really, that makes sense because ultimately it’s not where you are, but who you’re with that defines a real home. At least that’s how it should be. The comfort of friendship is all anyone really needs when they’re in a new and foreign place.

Waking up today added another late morning start to my record. In the midst of getting myself together and ready, I learned that one of my old friends from North Carolina passed away this morning after being in a car crash last night. Although I had only spoken to her on occasion since I’d moved to San Diego, she still holds a special place in my heart. I’ll never forget how friendly she was, not just to me, but to everyone we knew. My best friend was very close to her and I know that everyone who knew her is in shock after hearing the news today. It simply breaks my heart that life can be taken away from us so quickly. This was yet another reminder for me to make the best of everything and to never forget to live for a second. To live for the people who can’t and today I lived for Lauren Coffey. I hope I made her proud.

After pulling myself together, I made my way into Manhattan to meet with Isabelle and Chris at Union Square. Surfacing from the subway, I found myself in a sea of Christmas decorations at Union Square park. Heaps of homemade and handcrafted goods filled the red and white tents that covered the entire area. Once I found Isabelle and Chris within the madness, we walked a couple blocks over to check out the Flatiron.

This early 1900s skyscraper literally looks like an iron. It’s a phenomenally structured building in Manhattan that’s surrounded by various shops and cafés. One in particular being Eataly, an Italian gelateria/grocery/café/restaurant/kitchen appliance store. We stopped in to grab a coffee, but ended up wandering around for half an hour. It was seemingly endless and I could have easily spent the remainder of my day there perusing the chocolates and cheeses and breads. The center of the venue was a restaurant/tasting area where you could order freshly made and prepared cheeses and meats paired with some delicious wine. It was fancy and classy and very sophisticated. I loved it.

On our way to back to Union Square, we were victims of guerilla marketing by none other than Dunder Mifflin Inc., giving away stacks of paper directly from Dunder Mifflin. As a big fan of The Office, I was ecstatic and had to get a picture.

Moving on, we jumped on the train over to the Upper East Side to walk along Central Park and check out the exhibits at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our main goals was to see whichever fashion exhibition was on display this season, but we missed that by a couple of weeks. Instead we ventured into the Egyptian exhibit and saw the Temple of Dendur. Chris was telling me all about it about how the US seized the temple from Egypt when it was threatened by flooding. According to him (and other sources), the US has refused to return it to Egypt. My theory is that there’s something secret about that temple.. Perhaps some recent traces of Illuminati work… hmm.

Anyways, we moved onto the American Wing of the Met and there was an overwhelming showcase of art there. Statues and fountains and street torchettes, even a fireplace covered the room. It was so grand.

Our last spin was through the Arms and Armor exhibit where Chris went all googly-eyed over the weapons and armor. It was a very impressive display going as far back as the 5th Century. How men every carried those heavy plates across their chests, I will never know. And I’m happy to never have to feel that weight on my body.

Chris left us after the Arms and Armor and Isabelle and I were able to briefly live our fantasy of being Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen as we sat on the front stairway of the Met.

We then wandered around the Upper East Side, admiring the luxurious buildings and lifestyles that the tenants must have. To have everything you could ever want at the ends of your fingertips, never out reach, would be such a different life. I’m lucky enough to have been raised fairly well off, with loads of privileges that not everyone is able to receive. And much like everyone else, I’d love to bask in an infinitesimal income, but I’d be afraid I’d forget to appreciate other things in my life. It’s nice to fantasize about an alternate lifestyle sometimes though.

After spinning through Urban Outfitters, we had a quick bite at the infamous Shake Shack. It was delicious. I would say it beat out In n Out, but I’d give it a very close second. The chocolate shake was definitely a favorite.

One final goodbye to the glamorous Upper East Side and Isabelle and I got back onto the train to go our separate ways back home.

My feet are sore and my mind is tired and I’m happy to be in bed. Tomorrow will be a great day, just you wait and see.




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