In December, while on our short hiatus from blogging, I went to New York City with my family. It was my first time in the Big Apple and I could hardly wait. We flew into LaGuardia airport, took a taxi into Manhattan, and stayed at the Edison Hotel, which is steps away from Times Square and the Theatre District.
The food in NYC was incredible. In the lobby of our hotel was a bustling diner called Friedman’s. We ate there daily. We also enjoyed authentic Italian dining at Carmine’s, yummy late-night dinner at Bond 45, and a fun, classic brunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. But by far, my favourite dining experience was The View. This revolving restaurant is on the 48th floor of the Marriott Marquis and offers a 360-degree view of the epic NYC skyline. To get there, you have to take an elevator that looks and feels like a ride at Universal Studios. The food was phenomenal and the view was even better (hence the name). We spotted the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the NY Times building, and more historic features of the world-famous skyline. We could also see into some hotel rooms… Friends fans, brace yourselves—I saw an ‘Ugly Naked Guy’ in NYC!! (I couldn’t tell whether he was actually ugly. He probably wasn’t. But he was naked, and he was dancing.)
We spent most of our days strolling the streets or taking advantage of hop-on-hop-off tour buses; spotting iconic buildings and storefronts from history books and our favorite movies and television shows. We explored Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Plaza, Chelsea Market, and Times Square. We walked through Central Park at sunset. We went to the Top of the Rock and soaked in more incredible panoramic views of the city. We cruised along the Hudson River at sunset where we got another perspective of the skyline, saw the Statue of Liberty (and learned her powerful feminist backstory), and glimpsed the Brooklyn Bridge. We marvelled at the giant Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree and sipped hot chocolate while a light snow fell. It was magical.
One morning, while grabbing a coffee at Friedman’s before heading out for that day’s adventure, I saw a new copy of the New York Times on the counter. The headline: ‘Trump Impeached’. I felt like I was part of history as it was being made. That day, we went to the Museum of Natural History. We soaked in so much information and saw some fascinating exhibits—but I will admit that I was a little disappointed that it looked nothing inside like it does in Night at the Museum or Friends. That evening, we saw Rock of Ages off-broadway. I laughed until I cried.
The highlight of my trip, however, was seeing Come From Away on Broadway. I am a proud Newfoundlander who grew up hearing about the tragic events of 9/11 and how the small communities surrounding my own opened their homes and hearts to stranded travellers. To sit in the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre and watch a breath-taking, heart-wrenching, soul-warming performance in the city where the tragedy happened… well, it was really humbling. I felt a connection to NYC and New Yorkers.
Since COVID-19 reached pandemic status and started wreaking havoc on NYC, I’ve felt strong feelings that I never expected to feel. There is a line in the musical: “you’ve found your heart, and left a part of you behind.” There is a part of my heart that remained in New York. I wish there was something I could do to end the suffering, relieve the overwhelmed healthcare system, and revive the beautiful city that I was introduced to just four months ago. I wish there was a way Newfoundlanders could again open our hearts and homes to New Yorkers, just like we did in September 2001.
Please, if you can, donate to charities (anywhere in the world) that are working to fight COVID-19, support vulnerable people through this terrible time, or support essential workers. Please, please, obey physical distancing recommendations and follow the rules your government has put in place. Please, please, please, show kindness to your neighbours and check in on your loved ones. Be safe, stay healthy.
Sending my love and all the swell thoughts to NYC and all of you,