My New York State of Mind

New York: where everything happens at once.

Being spontaneous is one of the first thing that goes “bye-bye” when you have kids.  Simply packing up and going where the day takes you isn’t an option if you have to worry first about the care and feeding of children.  They become your first priority and that’s how it should be.  I’m not complaining about it.  

The accumulative effect of being a parent is you’re no longer Number One.   You’re  number Three or Four or Five depending how many other mouths  you’re responsible for feeding.   In the process of doing for them, it becomes easy to forget about you.  Your priorities and pleasures become secondary to the primary job of being Mom and Dad.  

Two weeks away from walking the streets of New York and it’s the waiting that is driving me crazy like an irritating  itch  I can’t reach or scratch.   

The flight?  Booked.  The room?  Reserved.  I looked at so many hotel websites that after a time it all became an amphourus blur.   How many showcase hotel rooms can you look at before they all start to look pretty much the same?   Everything is predicated by how much you’re willing to spend (and this being NYC you can spend a lot) , what amenities you need (a non-smoking hotel and a queen-sized bed) and where you want to bet situated (close to Times Square, thank you very much).  

You can read the reviews of a given hotel until you pass out.    You never know if you’ve picked well until you walk into the lobby and actually see the hotel (is it clean and is the staff friendly and helpful?) , smell the hotel (does it smell clean and fresh or is there the vague smell of cigarette smoke and disinfectant lingering just underneath), listen to the hotel (is the room too close to the elevator or too close to the street noises of the city that never sleeps?).      

 The last test is when you lie back on the bed.   Do it make you say Ohhhhhhh yeah  or Oh my dear God!   That’s the only way to really know how much or how little time you’re going to spend in the room–or in the hotel itself.  

Then again, the only thing a hotel room in Manhattan is good for is sleeping, showering and storing your crap while you’re out running the streets.   Nobody goes to New York to sit in a hotel room and watch TV.  

New York is a smorgasbord of possibilities.   Do you shop ’til you drop or gorge yourself on the vast variety of food and drink?   There are concerts, clubs, museums and oh so much more waiting if you’re curious enough and savvy enough to navigate the taxis, buses, subways and sidewalks.     

After being away from the place for 11 years, I know I’m going to feel like a tourist all over again, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to act like a tourist.   I’ve taken the Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan.   There’s no need to do it again.  I’m not flying nearly 500 miles just to gawk at the big buildings or eat at some crappy chain restaurant I could find in any Columbus strip mall.  

Half the fun of  going to NYC is exploring it.   You can’t be afraid to go off the beaten track if you’re going to find that place that stays in your mind long after the trip is over.    The comfortable and safe thing to do is to do the tourist thing and let someone chaperone  the poor hicks from the sticks through the Big Bad Apple.   

It’s not about courage or anything like that.  Are there some parts of NYC I wouldn’t want to be caught in when the sun goes down?   Sure, but name a city where there aren’t dicey places for delicate souls?    Even here in Columbus there are rough places where it’s a  bad idea to get caught with a flat tire and no spare or jack.   

Always walking the beaten path is safer and boring.   We want to see a play, but whoever said it has to be on Broadway?   There are great plays off-Broadway just waiting to be seen.    Just as there are restaurants, jazz spots and shops that are five-star experiences that don’t show up on the ranking websites and newspapers.  The city is calling and I’m yearning to answer.  

Drop me off in Harlem.

It would take at least a month or two and thousands of dollars to properly “do” New York City in a thorough enough way.   But we don’t have two months and thousands of dollars to spend.   All we’ve got is three days and 72 hours to make up for 11 years of lost time.   That’s not much time but it’s just enough time to get a nice little taste of the city’s  flavor.     

If we do it right that’s all we’ll need.  It will have to be because it’s all we’re going to get.    

Which should tide us over nicely until the next time we’re there, because  it won’t take another eleven years before we return.