Until We Meet Again NYC...
Just a little over a month ago, I was checking my email and I saw my weekly email from Travelzoo highlighting all of the “Hot Deals”. I usually skim and delete the email because nothing applies to Portland, where I live—but in this instance, I was wrong. Long story short, I found a round-trip ticket from Portland, Oregon to New York, New York, that not only fit my schedule so I wouldn’t have to take time off from work (and I had a three-day weekend!), but it was ridiculously cheap. I’m talking less than a New Year’s Eve party cheap. Less than a big trip to the mall cheap. Less than the taxes I would pay on some plane tickets cheap. Less than buying the same number of airmiles cheap. I was so blown away by the deal I could get, that with no clue on where I would stay or what would I do, I booked it.
Fortunately for me, I have a cousin who lives in New York. Though I haven’t seen her in a few years, I thought this was the universe’s way of getting us together for some bonding. And then using the handy dandy “Current City” filter on Facebook, I realized I knew more people than I thought I did in NYC and plans started to come together. And that was about all the planning I did—after all, between the day I booked the ticket and my trip, I had 3 sets of visitors on 3 different weekends and a trip to Puerto Rico to experience beforehand. Needless to say, my approach to NYC was to have a low-key, local-led, long weekend. And that’s exactly how it went.
This was my first time to NYC where I had time to spare, no set plans (except for seeing a show) and locals to hang out with, and boy was I excited. And what a fun weekend it was! Highlights include:
- Food: Such good food in NYC! And great people watching too! There’s so much to do in New York and each place has it’s own charm and character. Tip: Checking in everywhere on FourSquare definitely helped me keep track of where I was going—my memory isn’t what it used to be! And I learned that you need reservations everywhere if you don’t want to wait. Having an iPhone and being able to use the OpenTable app definitely helped! And of course I ate cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes. (And I even skipped a few shops that we’d come across.)
- Presents!: If there was ever any doubt about my cousin and I being related, we squashed it pretty quickly this weekend. When I got there, she was cleaning through her closet and accessories—which meant I got to inherit some fun items! We both love accessories (especially earrings) though I think she’s turned me onto a new obsession with necklaces. While I definitely don’t “need” more stuff, who can say no when they’re coming from a fashionista and are free 99?
- What's your purpose?: Avenue Q was fantastic! I laughed, I bobbed my head, my jaw dropped, I pondered--it struck a lot of different chords with me. It's an entertaining show that makes you think about your purpose--I know I'm still thinking about mine. The fact that I got the last ticket from TKTS and sat so close I was practically in the show are just added bonuses! (Note: I did end up seeing the show alone--interestingly enough, not the first time I've seen a show solo either. The first time was my during my first trip to NYC. I was in the city for under 30 hours for a video shoot and went to see Rent. It was either see it alone or hang out in my hotel room alone. Btw, you can get really great seats when you go alone--I was fourth row for Rent and first row for Avenue Q.)
- Family = friends: I stayed with my cousin which was fantastic. We hadn't really hung out...ever, so this was going to be a new and different experience for both of us. We had a lot of heart-to-hearts about topics from all over the board and shared some pretty personal experiences. There were several instances that made it really clear that we were definitely cousins and more similar than we had imagined! I really feel like I left NYC with a deeper appreciation for my family and a new-found friendship in my cousin. Looking forward to a visit from here in the future to wherever in the world I am!
- Virtual friends to real-life friends: I also got to meet my friend’s fiance who I had heard much about and have talked to over the phone and through text and on Facebook, but never met! (Funny how that works eh?) She was just as sweet in person as I thought she’d be and it was a different perspective of the city I got to explore with her. (There's a fun story about how we got to "meet" before we met in real life, but that's for another blog post.)
- Game night!: My cousin’s best friend—who I met at her bachelorette party and wedding last year—recently got married and moved to NYC. Though it was literally the third time we’ve ever seen each other, I had a blast with them and felt like we were old friends. Her and her husband were hosting a game night which sounded like a perfect Saturday night to me! I literally walked into an apartment with 14 strangers in the midst of a heated Taboo game. So how do I introduce myself? "Hi I'm Sejal. I don’t brag about a lot, but I will say that I’m a pretty darn good Taboo player. Go team 2!" I started getting nervous as the rounds went on--I set the bar pretty high...but I delivered. It was a heated game that went into double overtime. I was the last player up for my team but fell short by one point. (In my defense, I had some hard words: poinsetta, sloppy joe and crusade. I'm still replaying in my head what I would next time crusade comes up! P.S. The new version of Taboo is fantastic--adding it to my wish list, even though I have the regular version and Australian version already. Don't ask.) But I did get kudos from the winning team for keeping my cool, getting my team to guess some of the tough words I got and not getting buzzed. Just wait until next time...
- Literally living like a local: You know a Trader Joe's is busy when they have an employee whose sole job is to indicate the end of the line: I'm not even kidding. And there were 20 registers too. TWENTY! I met up with another friend I met through mutual friends a few years back and went for a nice stroll through her neighborhood and ended up at the grocery store. How's that for living like a local eh? Now that I think about it, it was also only the third time that I've ever seen her yet it feels like we've known each other for longer.
So there you have it. That was my lovely long weekend in New York and it was fantastic. The last five trips to NYC have all be great and fun in their own ways, but I always left feeling like it was only a place I could visit--and not too often at that. This time was different. I felt like I could really see myself living there and imagined how it would be. I loved how there was so much to do--almost TOO much to do--that if I lived there, it might actually help my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out--it's a serious disease) as I would have to be more mindful and careful about how I spent my time. Yet adventure and new experience would be readily available. I loved how it was a big city where I could have some anonymity: I'm sure I'd meet a lot of people but I could also just blend in. And even though things are expensive and apartments are small--it would make me declutter and get rid of unnecessary stuff and learn how to live more minimally. Plus if you're going to live in a fourth floor walk-up, you'll only buy as much as you really need or REALLY want. And I'd get better legs and a great butt out of it ;-) Who knows. Maybe as I ponder my purpose I'll find myself back there, or maybe not. It did feel nice leaving NYC knowing that I would consider a longer more permanent stay there one day, someday.
I think my Facebook status said it best: Three days later I'm leaving with clothes that feel more snug, a wallet that's a little bit lighter, a heavier suitcase, a mind with more memories and a heart flooded with love. Until we meet again NYC...thank you for a great weekend!