Well, let’s get this straight right now. I didn’t get a single celebrity autograph in New York City. I didn’t stumble onto any film sets, like, “Oh sorry! But since I’m here…” And the closest I came to anything like that was when our tour guide walked us by the theater where women were already lining up to catch Denzel Washington on his way in, and I fell behind the group as much as humanly possible, barely willing myself to keep walking instead of joining that line.
I am pretty sure I walked down the street next to Sandra Bernhard. But having to explain who she is to everyone I tell that to really takes away from what was already a less than magical celebrity sighting.
But let’s get back to the beginning, because my first New York City moments actually were magical. We walked from that busy corner where we had almost seamlessly joined the rhythm of Manhattan, down the street just a little ways to another bus that would take us and our luggage to our hotel on the upper west side. If you need a visual for the upper west side, go watch You’ve Got Mail, and then come back to me.
On the way to our hotel, do you know what I saw? Gray’s Papaya. It’s one of the movie locations I forgot to look up before I left, and on the way to our hotel we drove right by one. Gray’s Papaya features in at least two of my favorite romantic comedies, and I always wanted to eat at one. I didn’t accomplish that this trip, but at least I know right where one is – the one, I’m assuming, where Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly ate in You’ve Got Mail though not necessarily the one where Salma Hayek’s character gets hot dogs from New York for Matthew Perry’s character in Fool’s Rush In.
Then – oh then – I saw some daisies. The store was actually called something about daisies, I think, but I can’t remember and I can’t find it on google maps. But there was definitely something about daisies, as in, “Don’t you think they’re the friendliest flower?” And between these two sightings, I knew right away New York would be everything the movies had told me it would be.
On my first evening in New York I met both kinds of New Yorkers – as if there are only two. At Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, our first official NY experience, I met people who’ve transplanted themselves to the city. The group sales coordinator who met with us there – as our booth overlooked the famous news ticker thing at the ABC studios on Times Square – she actually went to college in my town, which was a very cool coincidence, you have to admit. But then we went to the Empire State Building. And the group sales director there was born and raised in New York. He gave us the VIP tour of his beautiful observatory, leading us around each side, pointing out the neighborhoods, their history, and where that pilot landed in the Hudson a while back.
It was right before that tour that we sat in an actual conference room on the third floor – a conference room in the Empire State Building – and I was pretty sure every hope I’d had for my trip was officially being far, far exceeded.
Before Empire, we went to Madame Tussaud’s and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, rambling through each at our own pace. It was at one of those where I got that great shot on a landing with windows behind me overlooking Times Square (from a previous post) and of course where I got pictures with Johnny Depp (above), Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, and Brad and Angelina. I didn’t take pictures at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not because, ew, and already I was realizing that every moment inside Manhattan buildings would be another moment I wasn’t on its sidewalks where I definitely preferred to be.
We had supper at a jazz club where the jazz wouldn’t start until 8 p.m. when we had already left. It was delicious food, but I was anxious. The tickets to one of that night’s plays were in my name, and I was desperate to get in our seats on time. That didn’t work out so well. We were late, and there was a mixup with the tickets. But finally, about ten minutes into the show, one other coworker and I settled into our seats for The Million Dollar Quartet in which the Johnny Cash role was played by The Last Starfighter. And if you don’t know who The Last Starfighter is, that doesn’t diminish the magic for me at all, because I knew him and I loved him, and that was all that mattered.
After the show, Dache and I navigated the subway all by ourselves – with the help of one young woman who confirmed we were waiting for the correct train and who also handed us a miniature metro map laminated and everything. We got off the train a couple blocks from our hotel, stopped in a CVS pharmacy for a few things, and then strolled home. To my new home anyway, for a few wonderful days.
When I got to my hotel room, I looked outside the window for a while, amazed and so thrilled that I would go to sleep with Manhattan just outside, called Michael and my mom, wrote in my journal, and finally, finally crawled into bed. I listened to my iPod as I fell asleep, afraid I couldn’t calm down otherwise, and then, amazingly, I fell asleep in New York City.