Originally published on February 2, 2010 at MomsMiami.
A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of the mother of emotional rollercoasters. To sit here and tell you that separation and divorce is not an easy and smooth process is an understatement of the highest accord. There are developments constantly that just have a way of crushing your heart into jelly. Add to that my grandfather was ailing and I was just a raving nutcase. So I pleaded on Facebook for an escape and got one from my friends, E & E who now reside in the Bronx in New York. I went to my savings and bought my ticket and off I went, spending what would have been my sixth wedding anniversary in the Big Apple.
E & E have a tiny beautiful baby so they were sorry to inform me they would largely be unable to escort me around the city. No matter. I got my MetroCard, an MTA map, and bought a NYC guide book and was on my own. I went to the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology and looked at stunning dresses and clothes and marveled over how some outfits over fifty years old could easily be sported today. I walked all over the place and ended up in Times Square taking in the lights and the movement. There really is a pulse to that city and it’s so easy to just sit and feel it. That night, we had a comedy of errors that resulted in my being foiled by a tricky NYC lock on their apartment and them sleeping that completely exhausted new parent sleep and having to resort to quick thinking. I ended up with a friend’s brother-in-law in Brooklyn who, with the assistance of his two friends, whisked me away to Sugarland, a gay bar in his neighborhood. Highlight of the evening was when one adorable man told me I was “too fierce for Brooklyn.” Thank you. I think.
The next day, I rested a little bit and made my way to Central Park West. After strolling the area, I found Le Pain Quotidien (494 Amsterdam Ave) where I had one of the most heavenly meals in New York. This was comfort food at its best– a Belgian Hot Chocolate ($3.95) with a little pitcher of extra chocolate, an open face Tuna & Hummus sandwich ($9.75) that was so incredibly fresh and delicious I wanted to hug someone, and the most amazingly decadent Dark Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding ($4.50) I have ever imagined. Le Pain Quotidien uses fresh and organic ingredients and you can tell. This super delicious and somewhat good for you meal cost me about $20 which impressed me big time. In case you can’t tell, I cannot recommend this place enough and boy do I wish we were lucky enough to have one.
After blissfully eating, I went to the Museum of Natural History where I got quite homesick and missed my children too much to really enjoy it so I left and vowed to return with the tribe at a future date. At this point, my leg was really starting to hurt from all of the walking the day before and earlier so I went back to the apartment and dined on some delicious Chinese food with my fantastic hosts and watched television until I fell asleep early.
Next day was a yucky rainy windy kind of day. It took me forever to get motivated to head out and when I did, I hid away in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a few hours. After swooning over this, that, and the other and wishing I had more time (always seemed to be wishing for that), I met up with another friend who lives in the city and did some wandering of our own which placed me in H&M and led to the discovery that my poor behind is just a little too Cuban to sport any of their really cute (and cheap) dresses. To recover from the dismay, we made a visit to Dylan’s Candy Bar which is a really fun experience. My kids would LOVE this place but I wasn’t so nostalgic as I was earlier. I really just had a great time looking at everything and snapping away with my camera. After all the tantalizing sugaryness, we went off to have dinner. I decided it was high time that my friend try some amazing Indian food and we ended up at this restaurant I had endlessly heard about called Chola. Oh my god. I hadn’t had really great Indian food since I lived in California a few years ago. Chola fixed that. We totally overindulged and ordered heaps of food like the Tamarind Eggplant and AMAZING Dosas (they really should just name them that). My friend had the Chicken Tikka Masala and I feasted on the Chicken Chutneywala. Throw in some Paneer Cheese Naam and we were figuring out how to roll ourselves out the door and back to the Subway.
The next day was shopping day but not before I started my day with a classic (overpriced) New York bagel and coffee at Murray’s that I happily munched on in Central Park. Once I was ready to go, it was off to SoHo where I paid homage to KidRobot and went absolutely bonkers at Pearl River Mart. Then, I went trekking along Canal Street and wandered through ChinaTown where I feasted on Dim Sum. Later that night, I met up with my friend again and we strolled through Little Italy where I bought a box of pastries to take back to my awesome hosts. When I went back, we had coffee and pastries (after I consumed my leftovers) and watched more television until it was sleepy time.
My last day was a short one and so I ran around to do some last minute shopping but also some last minute sightseeing. You see, my son was obsessed with the Empire State Building. So, I ran to the Top of the Rock and snagged some amazing photos just for him. After that, I ran to the famous Magnolia Bakery for some legendary cupcakes I could bring home (they sell a dozen mini cupcakes in an egg carton that are PERFECT for transporting, $20) but also snagged one I could enjoy myself after my lunch of chicken and rice from one of the street vendors.
And so it was that my trip to NYC came to an end. It was much needed decompression, distraction, and delight. It did make me homesick at times, but to explore the city on my own was an incredible and liberating experience unlike anything else. This wasn’t my first time in NYC but it was the first time I really attacked it completely at my discretion, indulging whatever the heck it was I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. Of course, you don’t have to go all the way up there for this sort of thing, but if you do make sure to check out some of the above places. They really made my stay special.