Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yes to New York

Recently I went to New York. It was a reunion! Five friends from Dijon and I met up in the city that two of them now call home and it was a really wonderful time. In lieu of an exhaustive recap, some highlights. 

The best thing, I concluded, is that you can go to New York 20 times and have 20 different experiences. So this certainly isn't the definitive guide to the city, but one way to do it. 


Excited traveler face. Coming from a soul-crushing Minnesota April in which we got pummeled with snow every fourth day, the tulips in Central Park were devastatingly beautiful and almost made me cry. 

So did the chic factor of this entryway. Two of us stayed with a girlfriend and her husband who are expecting their first child soon. They had just moved in to this new place near Columbus Circle. 

With some sightseeing time on our hands, my girlfriend Lynn and I took the blue subway line all the way up to 190th St. to the Cloisters. Not many people get there, but it was so worth it. It's part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is a very large monastery-like building housing medieval art that you reach after a stroll through a big park (in which, again, everything was in full bloom. Color me elated!). 

I don't fall for just any museum, but this one had 'it' factor. I loved all of the stone pieces salvaged from old (OLD) churches in Europe that are sometimes only partially intact, as with the faces here. Imagining the how they came to be that way was part of the allure. 

The Cloisters contained three or four chapel rooms, and this one was the most impressive. I think it's the absence of seating that makes it so striking.

Outside, the grounds were just as interesting. The control exhibited over this vine is perfectly perfect.

Moving on, we visited the Met later in the day. If you visit on the same day as visiting the Cloisters, you get in free. 

The Met is hugely overwhelming, even without all the people milling about. Lynn and I were very disciplined with ourselves in an effort to avoid the apathy that ensues when your legs weigh a ton and you don't know where to start. So we chose just four things to see: exhibits on Islamic art restoration and Civil War photography, Matisse, and Egyptian art. 

I know: we've all seen mummies. Big whoop. But what I really wanted to see was William the blue hippo. He's a small carved stone hippo that was found in a tomb, along with all the other super cute little stone animals on the left. The toy shop of ancient times.

Lest we forget, the hippo is one of the world's most dangerous animals. *Thinking about the story I read today about the guy who was swallowed whole by one and lived to tell about it.* Don't ask me my news sources.

At any rate, Zanna's really into hippos lately because the conductor in her book Animal Orchestra is a hippo, so I had to get her the William T-shirt.

The girls who made the trip a reality. My dear friends from college, from schools all over the US but in the same France program. To this day, the experience was one of the most life-changing things I've done and I never take for granted how well it went, or that it was even possible. I could never have expected the friendships I got out of it, especially since we're all so different!

The most unexpected thing I learned about myself while catching up with all of them was that I have an amazing memory. Someone would say "Remember that time...?" and I'd like be like  "Yeah, this happened and that happened, and you were wearing that shirt you bought at H&M the day before and your host mom offered us "De quoi a manger" and we sat in your living room and ate it while your host dad watched the news on TV and told you to dump your boyfriend that he didn't like."

Apparently this is a hidden talent because no one else remembered stuff like this. I suppose it's odd seeing as this was ten years ago, but I guess that's just me.

At any rate, we had great conversations and food, including dinner at The General, on the Bowery. It was Asian fusion and this was the fun mini dessert tray we split! Leave it to New York to be superlatively interesting on nearly every front.

I was also thrilled to get to see the High Line, the park constructed out of a defunct, elevated railroad bed. There is good design happening here, people. So clever and playful and fun. It has totally transformed this part of Manhattan--the Meatpacking District and around there. It gave me some ideas for our back yard...which also has the potential to transform the neighborhood! Not really. 

It was great to have a few days with old friends! Such a fun city and a different energy than in the heartland, albeit an intellectual, unassuming and underestimated sleeper heartland that I do love dearly. But seeing new things is a must and keeps the mind fresh.  

As they said on Downton Abbey, "A change of sync is as good as a rest." 

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