One of my favorite Simpsons episodes is when the family goes to New York City because Barney has gotten drunk, stolen Homer’s car, and left it at the base of the Twin Towers. In order to retrieve the car, Homer has to wait by the car for a police officer to come by, which only happens once a day. Of course Homer drinks too much crab juice with his kavkalash and has to pee, and misses the police officer, sending him into an insane rage. Meanwhile, the rest of the family has a magical time in the city, but Homer drags them away, car destroyed from his decision to remove the boot on its tire by using a jackhammer. As they drive out of town, the kids ask if they can come back to New York sometime, and Homer, his face pelted with garbage because the windshield is gone, mutters “We’ll see, kids.”
I was really worried that The Hubs would feel that way about New York City, because that’s how I felt about it the first times I visited in the pre-9/11 era. I just felt completely overwhelmed, like I was becoming more and more neurotic the longer I was there. But my last trip to New York, in January 2015, was completely magical and I realized that New York is actually pretty fantastic. And luckily, everyone in the family felt the same. Some highlights of our stay:
1. Our hotel, the Refinery NYC. Our room was enormous by New York City hotel standards, and it had an amazing rooftop bar with a view of the Empire State Building. The service was outstanding, from the front desk staff to the bellmen to the concierge who recommended her favorite bagel shop and arranged us a limo to take us to the pier in Red Hook.
2. Front row tickets to Wicked. The show was incredible, of course, and so was seeing it from the front row, where The Kids could peek into the orchestra pit and really see the expressions on the faces of the actors. Also, I had no idea that the dad from Girls was playing the Wizard, so that was a nice surprise. My favorite part of the experience was watching the kids watch the show, especially The Girl, who was completely enchanted the entire time. I was worried that she and The Boy would have trouble sitting through the whole show, but I mean, it’s such a great show, it wasn’t a problem at all. I think that’s a memory that will stay with them forever.
3. The Boy running a 5K across the Brooklyn Bridge with my college BFF. Poor kid was exhausted after, especially because it was so hot, but I’m very proud of him, and I think he’s proud of himself too.
4. We bought The Girl her first American Girl doll from the store by Rockafeller Center. HOLY HELL THAT PLACE IS NUTS. The Girl chose the MaryEllen doll, and then we got her and the doll matching outfits, because of course we did. Dear Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and anyone else: American Girl crap is what she wants for her birthday and Christmas this year.
5. Eating in Little Italy. My mom’s stepdad was Italian and I like to joke that he was in the mafia, since he was a casino doctor in Reno in the 1950’s and how many Italian casino doctors were there in Reno and the 1950’s who weren’t at least connected? So, I have an obsessive love of Italian food, and it was really amazing to be in a place where immigrants like his parents came to start a new life in the new world.
6. The Statue of Liberty. No, we didn’t go all the way to the top, because dude, who the hell wants to walk up all that way, and also all the tickets for the crown were sold out. But we did have pedestal tickets, and that was pretty cool. Pro tip: be sure to put on sunscreen, because now I have a really funky tan from the shirt I was wearing. Speaking of imagining immigrants coming to the new world, wow, imagine seeing Lady Liberty as you fled from poverty, persecution, pogroms…a truly amazing experience.
7. Taking The Kids for their first subway rides. I am a firm believer in teaching kids how to use public transit. Partly this is because I don’t drive, and partly it’s because I remember being a teen and having so much more freedom because I was able to get around my city on public transit. It’s just a skill set that I think everyone should have, and it was fun teaching the kids to swipe their fare card and find the right platform for the right train. And also teaching them not to touch anything because eeeeeew germs.
8. Sailing out of New York harbor. WOW. I mean, WOW. I got all verklempt as we watched the city getting farther and farther away, wondering if I’ll ever get to see it again. And then sailing under the Verrazano bridge, juuuuuuuust barely making it without hitting the bridge deck–everyone up on deck cheered.
But the rest of that story will have to wait for the next installment of this travelogue, because now it’s time for afternoon trivia in the Golden Lion Pub onboard the Queen Mary 2.