Wednesday, October 19, 2005
New York, New York
There is something about New York City that always makes me really sad to have to leave. Maybe it's the vastness of the city and how the tall buildings never seem to end, or maybe its the way that EVERYONE there seems to know how to dress (without being overly trendy). Then again, maybe it's just the fact that it's one of the greatest cities in the world with everything to offer a person. Whatever it is, I love it...I always have, and every time I go, it gets harder and harder to leave.
We flew out of General Mitchel Airport at about 4:30 on Friday afternoon. While the flight was supposed to take off at 1:25, the ongoing rainfall that the East Coast was experiencing hindered our flight plans and caused a bit of a delay. We occupied the time nicely though (as our family always does) cracking jokes, laughing hysterically at how funny we all thought we were, and competing against my dad in the USA Today's weekly Friday crossword puzzle. (Dad finished in about 15 minutes...Mikey, Mom and I had about 5 filled in). Yes, we're a bunch of dorks, but we have fun together.
The flight was surprisingly smooth and I was relatively calm (considering my intense fear of flying). It's not so much the "flying" that I'm scared of, it's more the falling to my ultimate death that frightens me. Yeah yeah, the odds are stacked WAY against me. But I don't care. It can happen to anyone. I am most certainly anyone.
So anyways, we arrived at LaGuardia airport in New York at around 8:00, grabbed a limo, and made the 20 minute commute to our hotel: The New York Helmsley on 42nd street. It was nice, but not nearly as nice as the W Hotel I stayed at when I went in May! The beds here were a little hard. We unpacked a bit, then went down to the hotel bar for a few drinks, some FABULOUS bar peanuts, and a wind-down session before heading to bed for the night. Of course we couldn't fall asleep without watching a movie first so we overpaid for a rental of "War of the Worlds" on our room television (ALL of us have already seen it mind you) and fell asleep.
Saturday morning we got up early, ordered room service, and were out the door by about 11:30. (We got distracted by Dodgeball on TV). My parents entrusted me with the directions and I decided taking the Subway around town was the best idea (and most cost efficient). I loathe feeling like a tourist so I lead my parents around the city for a few blocks, pretending like I knew what I was doing (I didn't). We finally had to stop and ask for directions on how to get to Ground Zero, which I hated doing, but the nice lady at Grand Central Station sent us in the right direction (I was half way right).
The E train took us right to where we wanted to go, and within minutes I was standing in front of what used to house two of the largest buildings in the country. We walked in awe around the now barren part of town, taking in the silence that the spot now held. It has been four years since the tragedy took place, and a lot of the surrounding areas have been rebuilt. But the stillness in the air is still alive and you can't help but let it overtake you. We were all silent for a while as we walked across the bridge. While I have to admit what I saw was exactly what I was expecting to see, I was not expecting for it to feel so eerie...so "dead" (I apologize for my tasteless word). As we made our way up to street level, there was a group of protestors in the area, protesting the government and the conspiracy that they say is 9/11 (ie: it was all planned by the US). I have my issues with the government as well, and I do agree that there is a lot about the day that is just not "on", but this was a place where THOUSANDS of people lost their lives. And for whatever reason that may be, it was in innocense, and not to be undermined by these people. It was completely innapropriate...so of course my brother made that known by getting into an argument with them. Boys! =)
From Ground Zero, we decided to walk northbound toward Canal Street, in search of some designer knockoffs. Yes, as a fashion major I should respect a designer's right to create without reproduction, and I absolutley do. But it's still fun to look right?! Some of them are really good!! For anyone that hasn't been to Canal Street in the city yet you're missing out on an experience. Block after block of little street lined shops carrying everything from handbags to CD's, watches to sweaters and everything in between all at extremely low, knock off prices. It's a market style shopping experience so it leaves a lot of room for bartering with the shop owners, allowing for some great deals to be made! My mom really wanted a fake Prada bag but I told her I would only let her buy one if it was a good knock off. None of this "Prado" stuff. We walked for a few blocks and were not finding anything worth purchasing. My mom had the idea of asking one of the random guys on the side yelling out "Louis Vuitton, Prada, Coach" where to get these good bags. With that question we heard "Follow me" and were lead into one of the back rooms of the stores. Behind a small black curtain was any fashion girls dream come true!! Dior, Fendi, Prada, Coach, Chloe, you name it they had it! My eyes lit up as I purused the selection and couldn't help myself from purchasing an adorable pink Prada handbag for myself (my mom bought a matching tan one). We giggled as we left the back room only to find my dad and brother in a similar back room, purchasing a Movado watch. What rebels =)
We met up with Patty and Frank Canella a few minutes later and continued our shopping spree in Soho (my favorite NYC neighborhood) at Runway, my new favorite store. It's a European inspired store featuring high-fashion pieces with inspiration from Paris and Italy. The store associates were FABULOUS! The offered us champagne while we browsed and helped us put together amazing outfits. Our primary associate, Luke, is a celebrity stylist with clientel such as Gloria Estefan and Emilio Estevez! I'm not really star struck but it was cool thinking about the close connection. We all ended up scoring some pretty fabulous outfits, including my mom who walked out of there looking like a million bucks, AND 10 YEARS YOUNGER!!! I was very happy for her. She was beaming.
Shopping took up the majority of our day and we were running out of time. We all rushed back to the hotel to shower up quickly and get ready for our evening. By 5:30 we were out the door yet again, and on our way to the restaurant (I forgot the name). It was fabulous food though! Authentic Italian. We had some wine, some spinache stuffed Ravioli (AMAZING), and some other random pasta dishes courtesy of the chef. We then celebrated Dad's, Mom's and Frank's birthdays, and were on our way to the Monty Python Spamalot show in the Theatre District.
The show was at the Schubert Theater right in Times Square and was really a great show! The cast was amazing (Tim Curry, Sara Ramirez, David Hyde Pierce and many others) and the music was great! I just am unfortunatley, not a Monty Python fan. I think it's a little beyond my time. Or maybe after living in Britain for two months, I have no tollerance for their humor anymore! But my dad and my mom were rolling in laughter, and it was granted the 2005 Tony award for Best Musical, so they're doing something right! Plus not to mention, tickets are almost impossible to come by so we were very lucky that we got ours (we ordered them in February). As we left we saw Huey Lewis (from Huey Lewis and the News) and felt cool to be at a venue where the stars go =)
We spent Sunday touring around a bit more before we had to get on the plane. We went and saw the statue of liberty and the Empire State Building both of which I have seen but it's always good to go with people who haven't seen them. I love the "look at that" face =) At 3:00 it was time to say goodbye to New York and we loaded the limo to the airport.
Our flight home was again delayed, this time due to the wind. I was a bit crabby but made the most of my time there, trying to keep my mind off the short flight ahead of me. It was useless though. As my fear of the flight grew, my anxiety took over and irrational thoughts consumed me. Suddenly I wasn't thinking clearly and I became convinced my plane was going to be terrorized (by the man standing in front of me in line). As we finally boarded the plane I prayed that he would not be on my flight but instead found him to be sitting three rows in front of me. I tried to calm myself down but it was no use. As the plane pushed off from the gate I found myself in a complete panic. My brother tried to calm me down but it was no use. I was convinced he was going to kill us. As the plane lifted in the air I turned around to my mom and said "I have to tell someone, that man is going to kill us all". She laughed at my irrational behavior and said tried to assure me everything was going to be fine. She realized her words were not offering any comfort though so she got out of her seat to go wait in line for the front bathroom, and assess the situation herself. She came back with a positive report, saying the man that frightened me was listening to his IPod but I knew her scam and quickly noticed him talking to the man across from him. It was at this point I lost it (as if I had been composed before). In my head I saw these two conspirisizing to take down the plan and as the man in question turned around and looked at the plane I crawled in the back seat by my dad and threw my head on his lap, just as if I were 5 again. He rubbed my head and tried to get me to calm down. "Christi, I checked him out a couple of times before we got on the plane as well and I assure you there is nothing to worry about. There is NOTHING he can do. If he even thinks about standing up and starting anything he will have 10 guys all over him, including myself, so please try to calm down". My dad is one of the only people in the world who can get me to think rationally in a state of panic like that. He calmed me down, and we talked about this phobia I have. By the time I knew what was happening we were on the ground, safe...and I again began to cry.
I felt horrible!! I felt like such a terrible person. Here I was safe on the ground, and that guy was only trying to travel back home! He was absolutley harmless and here I was thinking these horrible things of him simply for the color of his skin! I wanted to run and give him a hug and apologize a million times over for being such a nieve asshole but I knew that wouldn't be such a good idea. I consider myself such a liberal, accepting person and yet I assume death because of association. My parents laughed at my emotions and I was finally able to laugh at my stupidity too. I have to say though, the experience was emotionally draining and by Sunday night, I was dead tired and passed out within a matter of minutes.